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Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Jury Duty Made Me Thankful

Yesterday I was officially released from jury duty. In our county, jury duty lasts two weeks, but you don't have to go every day. Last Monday was my first day and was mostly orientation stuff. I didn't have to go last Tuesday, but did have to report on Wednesday and Thursday. Both of those days I pretty much sat in the juror waiting room (large room, a few TV's, free coffee, couches, chairs, and tables) until the court rooms cleared. Basically, the county has to have enough jurors in the waiting room to fill the jury should any case goes to trial that day. On average they call in 100-150 people per day. Once you get to the courthouse you wait. If your name gets called, you're going to be interviewed to be on a jury. If you get picked to be on the jury (they have to make sure you don't have any personal prejudices, know people on the case, etc.), then you stay in the courtroom and come back every day until the trial ends. If you don't get picked, you head back to the waiting room. My jury duty officially ends tomorrow, but they dismissed anyone who started last week, yesterday afternoon.

While I was kind of hoping to be on a trial-- mostly because I thought it would be interesting-- the "me time" I got in the waiting room was nice too. I knitted. I read. I wrote. I read and knitted some more. And I learned a few things despite never even going through the interview process (just luck of the draw, nothing I did or said).

1. I am thankful I have great friends. There were some women in the waiting room who would talk to anyone who would listen and who would give you every last intimate detail of their lives if you let them. I'm all for making small talk with strangers. And I don't doubt that some people make friends in the juror waiting room. But I think on some level, it takes someone who is a little lonely to reach out to people in a group of strangers. Strangers that don't have the best attitudes because, let's face it, not too many jurors want to be sitting there essentially doing nothing when they could be at home or at work doing something productive.

2. I am thankful we have good health care. I had no desire to mess with parking downtown, so I rode the bus. The express line stops at the end of our street during rush hour. It makes 2 or 3 more stops and then gets on the highway and heads straight downtown (as opposed to taking back roads the entire way as regular buses do). Two of the days Eric picked me up downtown when I was dismissed. One of the days though, he was in the middle of lunch time at home when I got dismissed. So I hopped on the bus home. As it wound its way out of downtown, a young mom with two kids got on. The older kid sat next to me. The mother sat with a baby on her lap across the aisle. The baby had a horrible sounding cough. The older sister fell asleep leaning on me. They got off in front of the city health clinic. While the clinic provides good health care, I'm thankful that I don't have to rely on it. And I'm thankful that when my kids are sick, I can put them in the car and head to the doctor instead of loading them onto a public bus and enduring cold stares from strangers who are probably dying to get home and sanitize their hands and wash their clothes after hearing that cough.

3. I am thankful I have hobbies. Some people just sat there. Doing nothing. I'm glad I know how to knit and that it's portable. I'm glad I enjoy reading. I'm glad I like to write. I'm thankful God gave those things to me to keep my hands and mind busy-- that He gave me those things for my enjoyment.

And so jury duty is over and we'll see how long it takes before I'm called for it again. Hopefully not anytime soon.

Tonight, my kids are playing a funny chase/crawl game in the hallway. They are learning to become friends. The age difference is still a struggle (Brennan doesn't have a lot of words to communicate, Cate doesn't like when Brennan "wrecks" her stuff), but I love the moments like this. The moments that tell me a year from now, a decade from now, they'll be friends. Oh, there will be moments when they're ready to kill one another, but they'll be friends. I have no fear that either of my kids will go looking for friendship in a disinterested juror waiting room .

~Melody :-)

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