Friday, April 27, 2007

How to Avoid Jury Duty

I woke this morning vaguely hung over and pissed.

The vague hangover, not severe, was due to a nice Girl's Night Out venture over to Water 2 Wine, the interesting little shop over on Anderson Lane. (Hey, Anita, there's one in Denver, too.) The concept is this: They buy "raw" wine from vineyards all over the world, mix it and ferment it themselves, and then bottle it. The wine is the same as that which comes from the vineyard, but it doesn't have sulfites, and you don't have to pay tax on it for some reason. And, if you so choose, you may bottle and ferment your own batch, and make your own label (for holidays, special occasions, and whatnot). They're REALLY free with the samples...I think we tasted like eleven wines, and by "taste," I mean like 1/3 - 1/2 a glass.

The pissed? Jury duty. And on the very day of the OG's Field Day, a very big occasion at her school at which ALL of the parents of any quality whatsoever must attend, or else be shamed.

In said frame of mind, I got up - sans The Man, who was getting in his Quality Parenting Points by helping the P.E. teacher set up for the Field Day starting at 6:30 A. fucking M. - got myself in some sort of order, smeared sunscreen on OG, rushed her to school, dropped YG off with The Man to transport to her school, and then drove over to a nondescript courthouse that, though I frequently drive this road, I never knew was there. (When I think "courthouse," I tend to think "stately," not "strip mall," but there it was.)

I got there, and sat and read the New Yorker for about an hour - which was actually a fairly pleasant bit of quality time, come to think of it. But, I really, really didn't want to be called to serve on the jury. I'm in a world of hurt at work, and I did feel bad about missing the little bit of Field Day that I could have seen. So, I wondered, privately - what exactly could I say, or do, to get out of this, if I were called? Could I fake a mental illness? Should I come in snarling and drooling, walking like Igor from Young Frankenstein?

But, when we got into the courtroom and sat before the judge, I was humbled into mute silence. The judge was small of frame but big of presence. She read the patter about the importance civic duty - even if it is for something small, like a traffic offense, which this was - and I just sat with my hands folded and nodded solemnly. Yes, ma'am, I absolutely swear to tell the truth. When she asked if anyone had any factors that would preclude them from serving on the jury, I shook my head no, as we all did.

After this, the handsome young lawyer from the state - at least seven years younger than I am, but I digress - got up and asked, "I know that none of you have an exclusionary reason to be here, but we want a fair any of you not want to be here?"

I thought about answering that, but I just couldn't bear to raise my hand. Nobody said anything for a bit, and then one person mumbled some excuse about work or something. Then, the lady sitting next to me pipes up with, "Excuse me, but it's Field Day at my daughter's school, [OG's Elementary,] and ALL the mothers are already there, and I'd really like to go."

So, you know, I was afraid to say anything on my own, but with that lead-in, I somehow managed to say, lamely, " too! What she said! The same school!"

As we waited, I have to admit that I was sort of intrigued by the questions that the lawyers started asking us. They started with "Have any of you ever been in an accident?" Many of us had. "Have any of you ever gotten a ticket for being in an accident?" Again, several said yes. "Do any of you have a commercial driver's license?" No, none of us did; several were related to people with one.

Then, there was the one that floored me - "Do any of you watch NASCAR, or Cops?" Hmmm. Not me so much, but one guy raised his hand. Then, he asks, "Do you know what a 'pit maneuver' is?" The guy says, yes, he does, it's when a car hits another car from behind at an angle, so the car in front spins out of control.

And THEN, he asks, "Do any of you think you would be prejudiced, knowing these circumstances, and that the defendant was the driver of a cement truck?" Really? Honestly? You've paired a reference to "NASCAR" with the term "cement truck?" Uh...maybe I am!

(Then, the lady next to me - the same lady with a daughter at my kid's school - says, "Yes, I really hate bad drivers, and what you did was HORRIBLE." So, needless to say, she was totally off the jury.)

In the end, I didn't get picked, and scurried off to see the last race of the day before heading into the last dregs of my workday (nada accomplished). I will admit, I kind of wanted to find out about NASCAR Concrete Guy. But, all in all, it was a good thing. I got in some face time with the girl - and more importantly, the OTHER MOTHERS. I feel much better.