I recently received a jury duty summons for today. And, once again, it passed without me actually having to report in.
This is kind of a relief for me. The summons in its initial form tells me to report at 8:30 in the morning to a location that, at that time of day, I’d want to allocate more than half an hour to drive to. I normally work until about 3 a.m.; getting up at 7:30 is distinctly difficult for me. It was a relief to check their website last night and discover I’d been placed on “callback status,” meaning I had to check again at 11:15 a.m. to see if they would need me after all — which it turned out they didn’t. And of course I’m happier not having to spend one or more days sitting around a courthouse instead of being at home.
But at the same time, I recognize that spending one or more days sitting around a courthouse is vastly less of a hardship for me than it is for many people. Yes, I’ll be operating on grotesquely little sleep (I’m not the kind of person who can just say “okay, I’m going to bed at 11 tonight!” and make that work), and yes, it’s annoying to uproot myself — but my work is flexible. I can take it with me to fill all the time spent waiting. And if I have to spend a day listening to a court case rather than writing, it isn’t the end of the world. I don’t wind up with a smaller paycheck at the end of the week, nor do I have to arrange for childcare.
So as much as I’m glad not to have to serve, I do feel bad that I dodged that bullet while other people didn’t — people for whom it’s a much bigger problem. There’s no system for saying “I’ll take someone else’s place,” of course, and if there were, I might find my sense of virtue sorely tested. 😛 But I genuinely do believe that jury service is an important civic duty, and I hope that when the day finally comes that I’ve got to be at the Hall of Justice bright and early in the morning, I won’t whine too much.