George Carlin: Some people try to get out of jury duty by lying. You don't have to lie. Tell the judge the truth. Tell him you'd make a terrific juror because you can spot guilty people.
—What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)
I had jury duty today. I was planning on writing about this experience from the jury room during the day today, but something happened that made it impossible: I was dismissed from duty before the day got started.
A few weeks ago I got a summons. As I looked at it, I thought, "Gee, I'm pretty sure I just did jury duty earlier this year." I remember it because absolutely nothing happened all day. So I started looking through my records, which essentially boils down to: looking through old posts here. That turned up nothing, so I shrugged my shoulders and put it on my calendar.
Fast-forward to this morning. In the rush to get out in a timely manner, I looked around for the summons, which I thought I'd stuck to the refrigerator, and couldn't find it. So when I got to the courthouse, I left my stuff with a couple of kind ladies who were using the day to write out their Christmas cards, and went up to the clerk to get a duplicate summons. (You need the summons so you know what your number is; they initially call you by the summons number.)
The clerk was a very nice person. Everyone's nice in the jury handling process; they know that it's a little bit of a hassle to do jury duty and so they're all quite polite and friendly and about as efficient as they can be. Anyway, she entered my name into the system and discovered: "Oh…you have two records in the system." My name was spelled slightly differently in each record; every other detail was the same. And, she noted, one of me had been to jury duty on March 9 of this year.
So, there's another blogging opportunity gone by.
She copied down some information and sent me to another clerk across the hall. She reviewed the information and determined that the first clerk was correct. She found a way to merge the two records into one: the "bad" record was the duplicate even though it was the correctly-spelled one AND the one that indicated that I'd been there in March. So she corrected the "good" one and deleted the other one. Then she gave me a note to bring to work and sent me on my way, free until next Spring at least.
You know, if you're careful when you do jury duty, you can just about break even between parking and lunch. I'd parked my car at 7:56AM; I'd been officially excused from jury duty at 8:32. For this privilege I paid $7 for parking. If I'd stayed all day I would have paid $8. What a deal! But I didn't get paid at all for showing up because I was excused, so I was essentially docked the seven bucks because of their mistake. This ain't exactly what you call an incentive.