I had jury duty yesterday, and for the first time ever, I wasn’t able to get out of it.
Now I have to admit that part of me thought the whole thing was kind of cool; fulfilling my responsibility as an American citizen, and all that patriotic stuff. But after 20 minutes of sitting in the crowded holding room with 25 other potential jurors, I was pretty much over the whole civic duty propaganda.
Visions of “12 Angry Men” filled my head as I carefully assessed each of the other prospective jurors. would that nice middle-aged woman with the cute hair-cut be the Jack Lemmon character? Would I? Who can predict who will stand up for the downtrodden defendant and who will sympathize with the alleged victim?
Once we moved into the courtroom, the judge asked us a bunch of questions about our preconceived notions and biases. It was a DUI case so he asked us about our alcoholic drinking practices, our understanding of the drinking and driving laws, whether we were related to attorneys or law enforcement officers. And then came the fateful question: were we ever involved in a drunk driving incident. I raised my hand immediately, surprised that the memory was still so accessible. It had been 15 years, but you don’t forget having your car totaled by a drunk driver whose head going through his own windshield didn’t even sober him up. I thought it was odd that the judge didn’t even ask me the standard follow up question “would anything about that prevent you from rendering an unbiased opinion in this case?” Hmmm? Maybe that meant I’d be excused and could still run a few errands before pick-up.
After the questioning, they led us into the main hall to await their selection. When we came back into the courtroom, they read the names of the chosen jurors and asked them to take seats in the jury box. But here’s the really strange part; instead of feeling relieved, remember I didn’t want to do this in the first place, I felt rejected. Why hadn’t they wanted me? I could have been impartial. I mean, one drunk apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl. My heart sank. I looked around to see if the weird lady with the photo tote was disappointed too? What about that pretty law school student, was she disheartened?
The selected jurors looked proud, as if there was something special about them. I even detected a slightly haughty air as they glanced around the room at those of us still sitting in the cheap seats. They actually felt superior to us. I mean after all, they had made the cut. It reminded me of every cheerleading and pom-pon try-out I’d botched. It was weird.
My spurned feelings abated much quicker than usual, though. On average, I spend at least 48 hours berating myself for every rejection notice I get these days. In this instance, I felt fully recovered by the time I pulled out of the parking lot.
I consoled myself with a trip to Saks and a frozen yogurt. I only wish that would work with my more significant disappointments.