Jury duty

I’m there right now. I hate it. My dad got called for a really big murder case when I was a very young kid; I remember how disruptive that trial was for our family. I’ve never felt good about this process since. I always report, but I have never served, and I never want to be chosen. (My orientation lady just said today is an “incredibly unique day” at the courthouse, so I wonder what the hell that means.)

I know a lot of people get excited about it — “You get to perform your civic duty! You get to see the justice system up close! And your case might be ripped from the headlines for an episode of Boston Legal!” But I say, shove it. Here’s why: I’m all about personal responsibility, from saving the earth to saving time in meetings with coworkers — I’m a big believer in taking care of your own shit. And while it’s my responsibility to serve on a jury if called — and I’m here, I didn’t try to get out of that responsibility — I always sit here and think, why am I here? Because, arguably, someone else wasn’t responsible. Someone couldn’t take care of their own shit. Someone hurt someone else or wronged someone else or divorced someone else and couldn’t take responsibility for their actions. So their responsibility becomes my responsibility — they can’t clean up their own mess, so I have to put all the things I’m responsible for on hold and come clean it up for them. That’s fair how?

That’s a serious question — were we talking in person, over lunch, I’m sure some of you would bring up some excellent points to counter my view, so I’m game to hear them.

I know some folks look at jury duty as a good thing — hey, in addition to all that fun TV drama, I get out of work! Maybe that’s great if you hate your job, or you don’t feel like you do anything important at it. But I don’t hate my job, deadlines are constant (and just as mandatory as a jury duty summons), and I’m a central figure with a lot of responsibility on my team. It’s not what I’d call a hardship that requires an exemption, but it does just make things messy. And again, if you take responsibility for your shit in the first place, things don’t have to get messy.

Also, and this ties into the responsibility thing, I almost take this TOO seriously. I know someone’s happiness or sense of justice for their rest of their life may be altered by what I help decide. That scares the living fuck out of me. I don’t take that responsiblity lightly at all, and that makes me uncomfortable. I worry about other people who are like “Yeah, whatever” when they’re called and don’t take it seriously.

I just upgraded my laptop to 4GB and I have two large batteries that will take me for around seven hours. I have Wi-Fi, iPods and, of course, magazines. Now, while I wait and hope to be dismissed so I can get back to being a responsible adult, I believe it is my civic duty to go play Plants vs. Zombies.

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