The Rural Juror

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This week, I finally lost my jury duty virginity. It was just as magical as I had imagined it would be, and so much more because it was real.

Parts of the experience were disappointing; some of it was scary-exciting (armed guards!); none of it was as painful as I’d heard it would be, except for the beginning – getting up at 6:30am. Sure, it was all over way too fast (they released us for the day at lunch time), and ultimately the whole thing was a bit underwhelming, but what can you expect from your first time?

I definitely plan to do it again, and maybe next time I’ll even get to finish (a trial – what did you think I meant? Perv.)

All sexual innuendo aside for a moment (just a moment, I promise), I really was excited to get to experience jury duty after all this time. Nineteen-and-a-half years after becoming a registered voter, to be exact. (Which makes the whole thing extra special, since nineteen-and-a-half is also the number of years I was a human before losing my more literal virginity.)

New Hampshire never called me to serve (and as far as I can remember, never even called anyone I knew), nor did Connecticut, and I was starting to think California would snub me too. My heart went all aflutter when the summons finally appeared in my mailbox last month. I’m a real citizen now!

Yes, I realize this joy makes me weird. But you know what’s sad? That it makes me weird. The ladies who ran the jury room – bless them, they have to do that every day and they have it down to a finely-tuned vaudeville routine – had quite a few bits about how NOT to get out of jury duty:

Don’t claim your boss won’t pay you (that form you filled out already says he will); don’t say you can’t understand English (if you passed your citizenship test, you do); don’t report for duty and then hide in the bathroom…you get the idea. They have clearly seen every trick in the book – which means people regularly try to pull them.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a small town girl with a fondness for civic duty, but I simply do not understand wanting to get out of jury duty. (That last sentence is my attempt to justify the title of this piece, because I really wanted to make the 30 Rock tribute happen.)

Wouldn’t it be great if we actually thought about jury duty the way we think about sex?

Sure, it’s not something for every day, or we’d never get our work done, but when the time comes, it’s special. That summons appears in the mail – date night, baby! We get a little dressed up (no ironic “guilty” tees or costumes), show up on time, and prepare ourselves for anything (I could not believe how many people brought nothing to pass the hours of waiting).

Not every outing will end in a connection. Sometimes, we go home disappointed. Other times, we make a match (to a jury pool), but it isn’t a match made in heaven (dismissed). And every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we end up finding a long-term partner.

Maybe it’s a short trial; maybe a really long one. Some pairings will be awful, some fascinating but ultimately pointless, and sometimes – some very rare times – we will be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and it will be important.

The best part is, just like with love, we never know which one it’s going to be. Jury duty = sex? Motion sustained!

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3 thoughts on “The Rural Juror

  1. pamelamaemery

    Katie – Really like this take on jury service. I’ve been called several times, dismissed (no trial) twice, eliminated from the pool once, and served once for a two-day trial (during a snow storm, and I KNOW that several waffling jurors would have held out longer if the weather had cleared) where the judge named ME the foreperson. Talk about your first-time jitters! It never occurred to me that serving was something I would choose to avoid. For the entire trial process, I was conscious that serving was one way of fulfilling my civic responsibility in support of our democratic system of justice. So little is demanded of us by our town/state/country: we don’t HAVE TO vote, some of us feel we don’t HAVE TO serve on a jury (our own individual convenience is so much more important) and we all know that there is a popular bias against paying our fair share of the cost of running this country (taxes). I am so sick of all the talk about individual rights, privacy rights, freedom to carry, free speech, freedom from paying for infrastructure, education, defense – yet there’s almost no consideration of the responsibilities inherent in the exercise of all our very expensive and hard-won freedom. Just saying’ . . . Thanks for saying so many things that matter, and with clever, provocative humor that makes your audience WANT to pay attention!

    • Preach! I share your frustrations with the whole “I get mine, why do I have to give” attitude. There are so many people to whom I want to say, “because you are a HUMAN who chooses to live among OTHER HUMANS! If you don’t want to have to do your part / share / think about others, you are welcome to move off the grid. Until then, be thankful and deal with it.”

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