The Saga of Civic Duty

5:20 PM

I feel lucky to reach the ripe old age of 32 and never have been called for jury duty. Prior to this year, that is. Early this year I received a letter notifying me that my turn had come. I was being put on notice that I would be on call for the federal court for the month of March. Problem was, we had scheduled a family vacation for March. So the courts graciously bumped my on-call to October. So a week before the first Monday in October, I opened the mail to find my official letter, summoning me to jury duty Monday morning at 8:00am. A knot formed in my stomach.

Because I'm a stay at home mom and am still nursing August, this made me so anxious for some reason! Not because I have anything against serving on a jury - it is, after all, our civic duty! And loved The Runaway Jury! It just made me anxious. No good reason for it.

The Sunday night prior to my Monday morning appointment, I had my mom all lined up to come over bright and early so I could head to the courthouse. But then I realized there is a number you're supposed to call after 6 the night before you're scheduled to report.

So I call. And the recording said...if your name isn't called you have been excused. I breathlessly listened to a listing of about 20 names...until I realized they had not called my name! The recording said if you have been excused, wait for another letter to arrive. All right!

Two weeks go by and I'm thinking, the month of October is slipping away. Surely I won't get away with just one letter? And the next day my letter came. Show up Monday morning at 8am! That was supposed to be this past Monday.

So Sunday night I call in just KNOWING they'll need me this time. And sure enough, they called my name, along with about 20 others. Show up Wednesday, though, not Monday, they said. Wednesday at 8. And they said call Tuesday night to make sure there have been no changes.

Tuesday night, I call. The message said, all jurors whose names are called, show up Wednesday at 12:00 instead of 8. And call at 10:30 to confirm this. Sigh. So I went to my Bible study this morning and in between small group and lecture, I called the number. No change in the instructions. So I leave Bible study early, drop the kids off at my mom's, eat lunch and then head to the courthouse.

On the way down the road, I happen to think...maybe I'll just check that recording one more time. It's 11:20. Sure enough - the message now said, all jurors reporting on Wednesday - do not report today. Report instead on Thursday morning at 8am. COME ON!!!!! Pick a date and time already!!!!! And of the night before after 6 to see if anything has changed.

So I line up my mom to keep the kids again on Thursday and watch the hands of the clock circle around to 6. I give them a good 30 minutes to get their message in and then I call.

"All jurors scheduled to report Wednesday or Thursday, do not report. The trial has been cancelled. Your term of service is over. "

I break into a little dance around my kitchen I like to call "The Jury Duty is Over" dance. It was nice. You'll probably do it spontaneously some day yourself when you are in my shoes.

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