Today, I got what might well be the most exciting piece of mail in the entire world.
Ironically enough, I might be the only person in all of America who’s excited about getting this particular piece of mail.
When I was in my first year of grad school, and was working at a clothing store and taking a whole bunch of random lit classes because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grow up (still don’t, just making it up as I go along), I got called for jury duty.
I was living in glorious Binghamton at the time. (I MISS YOU, BINGHAMTON!) I was SO EXCITED about this. JURY DUTY! I would be doing my civic DUTY! I would be making a JUDGMENT about a PERSON who was either GUILTY or NOT GUILTY! I would be watching JUSTICE IN ACTION!
So I told my job I needed some time off (which kind of sucked, because it was a part-time job, so it wasn’t like it had a jury duty pay policy or anything) and I dressed up in FANCY LADY CLOTHES (ok, I was like 21 or 22, so I think that meant I wore a hippie skirt and some sort of nice-ish teeshirt and not Doc Martens) and drove on over to the courthouse. The courthouse! Ooh, this was the big time now!
There were a lot of us, and we all sat in the courthouse and then the lawyers started calling up jurors and questioning them. I watched a lot of law shows. I knew how this all went down. Some would be DENIED! Because they were BAD NEWS! I anxiously waited my turn because I knew I would win jury selection. I mean, I was in my FANCY clothes. And I was MOST impressive. I knew all about law. I would be a very good jury member. Of course they would want me!
Well, almost twenty years ago is where I learned that teevee is very seldom like real life. No one got rejected in a dramatic fashion. The lawyers asked the potential jurors very softball questions, mostly like “Do you feel you can serve impartially on a jury?” And everyone was accepted. All twelve of them. The first twelve people they called. Leaving the fifty or so (I don’t even remember how many there were, it seemed like a lot) of us sitting in the courtroom anxiously awaiting our turn in the hot seat sad and forlorn. (OK, fine. Only I was sad and forlorn. The rest of those people looked like they’d won the lottery, because if you show up and you’re not accepted, you don’t get called again for like 4 years or something like that.)
I left very sad, because FOUR YEARS, you guys. That is a very long time.
Can I just ask – why don’t people want to serve on jury duty? I think it would be SO EXCITING. First, you don’t have to go to work, and you still get paid (at least some of your salary, if not all of it, depending on your job and its policies.) THEN, you get to go to a courthouse! And listen to a LIVE LAW AND ORDER EPISODE! And then you get to decide whether the person is innocent or guilty! I mean, seriously. Could this BE any more fun? Why do people get so weird about this and not want to do it? Is it because they don’t want to judge another person? Well, that person is given a jury of their peers, it’s the rule, if no one served, he or she couldn’t get what they were promised, and what they deserved, you know? Also, didn’t you see 12 Angry Men? I mean, seriously, don’t you want to be one of the angry men? WHY NOT?
Fast forward almost TWENTY years. I have never been called for jury duty since. Not even once. Mom sent me a pamphlet that said “how to volunteer for jury duty” but it was unhelpful. Everyone I knew was getting called for jury duty. Some people like every four years like CLOCKWORK. This seemed very unfair. VERY unfair. Didn’t they know I would be the best on jury duty? Like, THE best? Is that why they weren’t calling me? Like, they were afraid I would be so much better than everyone else and they didn’t want to give people a complex?
Today, when I got my mail, it was a lot of crap. Coupons for something I don’t even buy (sigh); a flyer for a grand reopening of a store that never closed (confusing); a letter from my insurance company telling me they wouldn’t pay for ADHD screening for my children (sorry, Dumbcat and Newcat) and then…THIS!
What could THIS be, I ask you? FEDERAL COURT!!!
I know, the first thing you’re thinking is that I’ve been served. NO I WAS NOT SERVED!
OMG WHAT IS THIS?!?!? It is MERKA, you guys! MERKA!!! Well, on a small scale. NEW YORK MERKA! OK, not even all of New York. NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK MERKA!!!
THEY WANT TO DETERMINE MY QUALIFICATIONS AS A JUROR YOU GUYS! FOR THIRTY-TWO COUNTIES!!!!
Also, check out the middle there. “Northern District’s Master Jury Wheel.” I totally imagine all of our names on a big old Wheel-of-Fortune wheel and the Jurymaster spinning it with a devilish look in his eyes and saying “TODAY WE WILL CHOOSE LUCY’S FOOTBALL!!!”
So I talked to Mom tonight and I was all “MOM! MERKA! JURY! I WILL WIN THIS! I WILL MAIL THIS BACK WITH A POST-IT ON THERE THAT SAYS ‘PLEASE PLEASE PICK ME I WOULD BE THE BEST AT THIS DON’T YOU WANT TO MAKE MY WHOLE LIFE COMPLETE?!?!’ Mom was quite sure this would make them throw my survey away, as no one WANTS to serve on jury duty, so they would think I was a crazyperson. WHY IS THIS? I seriously don’t get it.
“Mom, I would be not ONLY the best jury member, I would be IMMEDIATELY picked to be FOREMAN of the jury, and I would be the BEST foreman. I would hand out PAPER and PENCILS and ask if anyone needed to see any of the EXHIBITS again and then POLL THE JURY to see where we STAND and see if we are DEADLOCKED and also I would organize our LUNCH ORDER. It would be the best. THE. BEST. Why haven’t they called me before this to see how the best I am?”
Mom changed the subject. I’m pretty sure that’s because she agreed how much the best I’d be.
When I told DAD, he told me the following story:
“I also got one of those questionnaires a couple months ago and it said you had to return it in ten days but it asked a lot of questions I wasn’t comfortable with the government knowing so I refused to return it even though your mother yelled at me. Then the other day they sent me another one, and do you know what it said? That they were going to send me to JAIL if I didn’t fill it out! To! JAIL! Well, if that’s not a sign of a government conspiracy, I don’t know what is!”
So Dad’s probably going to jail, so that’ll be nice, I’ll have to bake him a cake with a file in it or something.
So then I read the letter and it said I didn’t even HAVE to mail it back in. I could fill it out online! Well, that means they would get it faster. And I would be on the wheel of jury duty destiny FASTER. I’m completely cool with that.
So I answered all the questions. Most of which were things like “ARE YOU A WHITE PERSON?*” (*WE ARE NOT RACIST WE PROMISE!) and “Do you know English?” (since the questionnaire was IN English, I don’t know that I’d have gotten to that page had I not) and “Are you a dentist?” (Yeah, I don’t…I think that was a way you could get out of jury duty? I guess if you don’t show up to clean someone’s molars you might not get paid and that’d be bad? I don’t know.) I answered them with VERVE. And PANACHE. And MUCH JOY.
Now I wait, I guess.
Dear United States District Court (MERKA!):
No one wants to serve on your jury. I know you must be so sad about that. Like someone picked last in gym class. Like you’re a joke. I feel terrible about that, USDC (MERKA!) and therefore and happily volunteering my services. I love to vote! I happily do it every time I’m allowed! I tell others to do it in a haranguing tone all the time! And now I would be HAPPY to serve on a jury! For any sort of case! A large case (HATCHETMURDER!) A small case (JAYWALKING!) I don’t even care! I would be very good at this, USDC (MERKA!)
Also, even though I’m very chatty, I promise I will not talk about our super top-secret case online. I will only talk about it in the most veiled of terms. Think of how many people will want to serve on a jury once I tell everyone in the blogosphere how cool it is, USDC (MERKA!)
Also, I know now that fancy dressing is not a skirt and a teeshirt and whatever shoes are not Doc Martens. I totally have GROWNUP clothes now. I will dress up for you, USDC (MERKA!) I will dress up for you SO HARD.
Don’t leave me hanging, here, friend. You call me. I will be the best at this. I like to win. And I will win this for you.
Most sincerely yours, your future best juror in the history of ALL OF MERKA,