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Jury Duty

I recently had to report for jury duty or, more specifically, jury selection. I was so unhappy about it. The very first day of that week, I had to go in. Ugh. I had to be there by 8:00 a.m. Thus, my dogs would get the bum’s rush with a tiny walk. Miles and I would not have a woodland walk at all. And I would have no time for meditation. I would be showering and dressing up in proper clothes (not my everyday dirty old hiking pants, boots, and a hat) before you could rub two sticks together! Again, ugh. And I would have to be among people–strangers–at 8:00 in the morning, smiling and nodding, or even quietly chatting. Not talking with familiar Others about our dogs or the weather or what was blooming in the woods that day. No, with strangers about who knows what. I cannot begin to tell how unhappy I was about all of it.

First, let me say that I know I’m incredibly lucky that these are things that I don’t have to do every day, like some–many–okay, most people. I know I’m tremendously lucky to be going on woodland walks with my dog practically every single day. I am very conscious of that fact every morning, as I drive past the hospital to get there. Most of the other drivers I see are off to work. I just hope they like their jobs.

Anyway, knowing I am lucky I still felt put upon. Grumble grumble grumble. Because of Covid, we had our temperatures taken and there were extra rules and precautions in place. Good! We were not all crammed into a small room but instead, taken into the courtroom and seated spaced apart. Our county was under a mask mandate, anyway, so everyone wore masks–everyone, that is, except the judge. Because . . . ? Grr. The two lawyers who performed the voir dire also removed their masks when they were performing (yes, performing), even though they had microphones. Because . . . ? Grumble grumble grumble!!

I had to sit in a chair for hours. My feet did not touch the floor. I had to endure inane questions posed by the lawyers, endless answers from all the jurors, and Good Old Boy humor from the maskless judge. Since it was a civil case of sex discrimination, I said that yes, I believe sex discrimination exists and yes, it has happened to me, and in fact I believe it happens all the time, and furthermore, I would find it hard to believe that there was a single woman in the room who had not experienced sex discrimination. A potential juror claimed he had been convicted of a felony. The maskless judge dismissed him rather quickly. Well played, Stranger.

I held my breath and crossed the fingers of both hands as they read off the numbers of the jurors who had been chosen, who would be staying, possibly UNTIL 6:30 P.M., the maskless judge had said. And for two or three more days! Please oh please. I listened. I closed my eyes. My number was not among them. Whoosh! The held breath escaped from my lungs in a rush and I managed to refrain from jumping up and down, shouting, or high five-ing the lady next to me.

I had been at the Courthouse for just five hours. But I was so eager to get HOME with my dogs and my son and my familiar things all around. Free! I was free!! My joy and relief were palpable. In a crazy way, I felt as if I had been released from several weeks of confinement. I hugged my dogs, took off those clothes, and rattled on and on to my son about how it was and how relieved I was to finally(!) be home again. Home in my own home. My dogs. My son. My things. My yard. My home. As if I had endured something huge and difficult and very long-lasting.

I am clearly very spoiled.
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
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