Boy do I have a great story to tell you today! So get yourself a snack, get all comfy and enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I was summoned for jury duty. I think I mentioned this already? Anyway, the day they had me assigned to go in just happened to be the most stressful day of my entire life- the practical exam for my anatomy lab. So after a few phone calls and help from a really nice lady (thanks nice lady!) I got reassigned to a one day trial that was scheduled for today.
Before we get to all of that, I have to tell you that I have a small phobia of driving on the freeways.
I have lived in the same state my whole life- gone downtown many times, but when I have to drive myself there- at freeway speeds, it stresses me out! I never know which exit to take. I am one of those people who causes other drivers to say bad words. And I don't want to be the cause of other people going to hell, so I just avoid the freeway at all costs.
Also, I am VERY uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations- and although I have watched my fair share of court dramas on TV, the thought of going through that myself made me sweat. You would think I was the one on trial for all the the stress it was causing me!
But, I told myself to buck up, act like the 36 year old that I am, and deal with it.
I did this by not allowing myself think about what I would be facing in the morning- in fact I drugged myself the night before so that I would go right to sleep and not lay there for hours thinking about it and getting myself all worked up.
I awoke this morning all bright eyed and ready to face the day.
I had planned to leave at 7:15 to give myself PLENTY of time (over and over you are told to 'be there early, be on time, but DO NOT be late!') because I would be joining my fellow drivers in the morning commute, and because I would not be taking the freeway. However, I did not leave my house until 7:30- which ended up being just fine. I got to the courthouse at 8:05 a.m. No worries.
I parked my car (I think I actually parked in a reserved spot....oops), got out and saw 3 other people walking my way with their yellow juror card in hand. I smiled and said a few hellos. A nice man was waiting in the elevator when the doors in the parking garage opened. He smiled, asked if we were jurors to which we all answered yes. He said, "Oh, I am sorry." We all chuckled as if this was the funniest thing we had heard all day. I guess it was.
After going through security- much like at an airport, except you get to keep your shoes on- I was ushered down the hall and into a large room full of chairs with little armrest-like tables on them (the kind you see in schools). I sat down, smiled at those around me and pulled out my homework. I planned to use my time in a quiet room of adults wisely. I don't get quiet often and it is something I value greatly these days!
About 15 minutes later, a plump woman walked into the room, welcomed us, thanked us for taking the time to be there (like we had any choice. Well, I guess we did. The alternate is to pay $1000 and up to 30 days in jail....hmmmm.) and asked if anyone needed letters for their employer proving that they really had participated in jury duty.
She then preceded to tell us that we would be watching a short video showing us about the process of jury selection (I found out that the only way out of it my friends is not to vote or drive) and that hopefully it would answer any questions we had about what would be happening that day. It was quite entertaining if you enjoy watching poorly made government videos where people are talking about their feelings about being selected, or in most cases not being selected- , to be on a jury....hey! almost as bad as this post!
After the riveting video, the woman told us to take a few moments, stretch our legs and use the restroom. Since I hadn't been sitting there very long, I decided that I would once again use the time to do homework. You know, take advantage of the quiet?
But that was not to be because sitting right behind me was a nice older fellow who apparently had just returned home from a mission in Malaysia with his wife and wanted to tell everyone around him all about it. Every detail, every person's name, every place he went, and how much money he was now spending each month on the few fortunate souls he had helped get into school here in the USA. Wanna know? $4000 a month! I don't mean to sound rude- I do admire him and all that he has done, I just was hoping for some quiet time. And there were several people around me that seemed to feel the same way.
After a loooooooong time, a small woman, dressed in black, mid 50's or so, walked into the room. She introduced herself as Judge So-and-so and said that she was the judge on the case that we were to be jurors for. She thanked us once again for taking the time to be there and let us know that the case that we were to be involved in was a child abuse case and that she had been working with the lawyers all day yesterday until late in the evening to get the defendant to accept responsibility for his actions, so there would be no need for a jury. But obviously he would not and so that was why we were there. However, the man had had a change of heart when he heard that there was a room full of jurors who were waiting to hear his case that morning. He pled 'no contest' which the judge was happy enough about because it still gave her the room to give him the maximum punishment, to force him to get help, and to keep him away from the little girl he had abused. She told us many details about the case, which I was surprised about, and which made me glad to know that we were not going to be needed. I would not have been selected for the jury- of that I am sure. Being a former foster parent, I think, would have put me on top of the list of the defence's 'no-way-no-how' list.
The judge was very gracious and told us that we could use the rest of the day for ourselves and thanked us once again for being there. She made a point to let us know that it was because of our presence there today that this man would not be hurting this little girl anymore.
As all the potential jurors lined up to get parking tickets validated, I listened as comments were shared about how they felt about the case that we almost had been a part of. I visited with a woman next to me and we shared how we had children of our own and how hard it would have been to hear all the details about that case. The woman asked how many children I had and how old they were. When I told her I had a 15 year old daughter, she said how great I looked and asked what kind of skin treatment I used. "I am serious! You look great!", she said as I blushed trying to think of even one product that I use. Then she said those words that I should have known were coming...."Have you ever heard of Mary Kay? I sell Mary Kay and they have this amazing dermabrasion product that minimises pores and fine lines. You should get some- NOT that you need it." Yada, yada, yada.
So there you have it! My day as an almost juror. In and out by 10:00. To reward myself for being such a good citizen, I went straight to my favorite home decorating store, Tai Pan, and did what I could to stimulate the economy. I am good!