In theory, I love the IDEA of civic duty. Serving justice--Life without parole for the child molester or bleeding the insurance company for wrongly denying all those terminal children's bone marrow transplant claims.
In REALITY, I panic whenever I receive a jury summons and do whatever is necessary to get out of it. WHOWILLTAKECAREOFTHECHILDRENWHENI'MSEQUESTERED?WHOWILLTEACHMYCLASSES?WILLISTILLGETPAID?OHMYGOSHINEEDTOINSTALLMYEXHIBITNEXTWEEKINNEWYORK.WILLTHEJUDGELETMEOFFFOR UNDUEHARDSHIP?
After 6 undue hardship excusals, I figure my grace period is over. I wonder what to wear and what to say that will make me an undesirable candidate. If I appear as the paradox that I am—the Christian liberal artist professor—does that make me ideal or undesirable? I briefly debated bringing Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and my BIBLE—that would really confuse them. Opted for the laptop and two lighter texts--both figuratively and literally.
I decided to wear a shirt screen-printed with barbed wire (courtesy of Alison Pierz Designs--Crown of Thorns attire). An apt metaphor for the day of collective confinement.
Waiting in the line at the security checkpoint, a guy in a business suit tells me that if you get on a federal case, you will be stuck for 6 months or more. That is not what I want to hear right now. He has an official law enforcement badge and is sent in immediately. He gets picked in the first round for the civil trial.
The jury lounge. Lounge conjures up an image of ambient lighting, glistening cocktails and comfy sofas. This *lounge* consists of an overcrowded, airless room of 300+ people all hoping to not be chosen. Padded chairs are crammed so close together that I am touching elbows with the men on either side of me. If I lean back, my head will rest in someone’s lap. The guy on my left with bloodshot eyes ( Elliott, age 27) has been summoned 5x, but has never been chosen. He is hoping for early dismissal so that he can have a few beers, a burger and a nap, courtesy of his employer. The man on my right offers me some Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. I see an elderly man with a spongebob squarepants baseball cap, texting on his blackberry.
The judge tried to convince us that collectively we have THOUSANDS OF YEARS of wisdom, common sense, integrity and an ethical sense of justice. It's a bit of a stretch.
The jury lounge is actually what Dante referred to as PURGATORY.
It is an in-between place of waiting. IN LIMBO. It seems eternal. Does one proceed into Hell or receive a pardon from the big boss? Unlike purgatory, reprieve is only valid for 1 year and 1 day and then your number is up....again.
A major shout-out to the guy who plead guilty, so I didn't have to progress to the next round.
Purgatory according to Dante: