Duty Free

There was a very different feeling in the assembly room today as the 200 or so remaining jurors waited to see if they’d be selected. Yesterday, whenever numbers were called, people wanted their numbers to be called. They wanted to get it over with, get on with the selection. People were curious about what lay waiting in the courtroom. Essentially, Day 1 was like a scratch-and-win lottery—barely worth the money and effort, but you’ll scrape off that coating with the first coin you find.

Today was a different story. I could feel the temperature rise in the room each time numbers were called. No one wanted to hear their number. They had made it that far, and they were hoping to keep reading/knitting/watching Dr. Phil until the bell rang and they could go home. Whereas Day 1 was like a scratch-and-win lottery, Day 2 was like the short story The Lottery—nobody wants to get picked.

I made it to lunch without hearing my number. Came back from lunch, heard another batch of numbers called. Still nothing. 2:00 rolls around, and I’m thinking, this is it, I’m free, let us go! But no…nothing. 2:30. 3:00. Still nothing. Finally, the clock chimes at 3:30, and the woman in the front speaks to us for the first time in several hours.

“You’re dismissed.”

So essentially, we just waited around for 2 hours for nothing. But no! My handy Rural Juror handbook tells me that Waiting Serves a Purpose: “As jurors, you are, by your presence and readiness to sit in trial of a case, actively serving our system of justice. Cases are settled “on the courthouse steps” or during the course of the trial because the parties and their lawyers may feel that you, as jurors, might decide their dispute less to their advantage.”

That’s actually somewhat reassuring to me.

And to be honest, even though I’m now behind on work, I’m ahead on writing and reading, which I alternately did yesterday and today. Conversely, the girl sitting next to me—I’m truly bewildered by this—spent the majority of her day doing absolutely nothing. Not sleeping, not reading, not even watching TV. Literally nothing. Besides the maybe 10 minutes she spent texting and the 30 minutes she listened to music, her activity level was zero. She’ll serve as an inspiration to me if I’m ever put in solitary confinement.

For now, I’ll just take my $24 and sleep well, knowing I served my country by waiting.

0 thoughts on “Duty Free”

  1. Pretty sure you’re supposed to turn that 24 bucks over to your employer if you were paid for the days of jury service. Yeah, sucks huh?



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