I recently had jury duty.
(It was actually like ten years ago, but I’m hoping if I put it out there that I had it recently, I won’t have to have it again. Like chicken pox.)
Nobody likes jury duty and now I know why.
First of all, it’s like getting picked for teams at recess, but in reverse because no one wants to get picked for this team. Unfortunately all those poor kids who always got picked last for everything have now grown up into successful adults who now get picked first for everything, like jury duty, helping people move, and tax audits.
Pretty soon there were twelve of us sitting in the jury box answering questions from the attorney.
The questions attorneys ask you are not normal questions, either. It’s more like the questions you get asked by a first date when they’ve just gotten out of an incredibly unhealthy relationship and are trying to make sure that you’re not the same kind of crazy that they just escaped. Like:
“If I were to ask you if you wanted to buy some chickens from me, and you did and you paid me cash, but then found out I didn’t actually have the chickens yet and it was going to be up to two years before you could get the chickens, and you wanted your money back, but I told you I had already spent it on a professional butler, how likely would you be to have the sort of reaction that would cause you to run the butler over?”
That part went okay (and the defense attorney seemed pleased that I thought I could see myself running over the butler in the chicken scenario), but then it started to go downhill when the attorney asked the first normal question:
“Who would rather not be here?”
My hand shot up, eager to be the first to stand out from the crowd of people who didn’t want to be there.
But the crowd never came.
Mine was the only hand raised, which seemed odd given that I had overheard every one of the other people in that room express a desire to be anywhere else, including the judge when he thought his mic was turned off.
I was going to have to call a mass Pants-on-Fire, but I wasn’t sure if that was allowed from a juror or if only an attorney could call that.
What I didn’t know, being a mere lass (25) was that jury duty fits beautifully into another dating analogy:
It’s like when you’re dating someone desperate and the more you can’t stand them, the more they love you and won’t let you leave.
And then it became even more like that analogy when the lawyer asked that horrible, awkward question: “Why? Why don’t you love me?”
Or maybe he asked something about me not wanting to be there. It was a long time ago.
The point is that I had taken a solemn group oath and while it was early in the morning (10am) and I wasn’t paying attention to what exactly I was swearing to, I was pretty sure “truthfully” had been said a few times. Also “pudding” for some reason. And unlike the 11 shameless liars I was having to share that jury box (and possibly pudding) with, I was going to uphold the words I couldn’t remember saying.
So I answered truthfully (while thinking about pudding just in case).
When the lawyer asked, “Why don’t you want to be here?”
I said (and this is actually true), “Because I have better things to do with my time than settle the problems of four adults who are having a childish dispute that they could handle themselves instead of inconveniencing every single person in this room, your honor.” (I added “Your honor” because I wanted to tell the truth, but did not want to get thrown in jail or, worse, sued by one of the four childish adults and have to go to court and listen to some honest and naive juror insult me when asked why they didn’t want to be there).
Spoiler alert: I did not go to jail and I swear I heard the judge giggle.
The lawyer, who was not giggling, shuffled some papers around and then it was decided I could leave right then, and shortly after that courthouse moved and changed its phone number (and that is also true, although there may have been plans to move the courthouse before I was there).
I feel that Karma truly won that day. The truth set me free, while 11 people with their beflamed trousers got stuck in a stuffy jury room eating what I hope was sub-par pudding.