A few months ago, I received a Jury Duty notice which would have required me to serve in February. We were entering the heartland of a big project at work (think Paso Robles on a drive between San Francisco and LA), so I deferred it as long as I could … which turned out to be until May 18th.
Now, I would theoretically love to be on a jury. When I was 10 or 11, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and in my early teens, I read a book called “Be The Jury”, or something like that, kind of a ‘What Would You Decide?’ vibe to see if you would reach the same verdict for the same reasons as the jury in the actual case. I’ve been summoned a few times in my life, always played the stand-by game of calling in the night before, never getting to shoot piercing glances at dodgy witnesses or nod with solemn concentration and obvious insight during key testimony, winning the hearts of both prosecution and defense with my aegis-like integrity.
But of course that wouldn’t have been what happened, and like everyone, I now leapt at the chance for an easy deferment to kick the can of jury duty down the road a few months. “Future Me is the man for the job. He won’t have anything going on.”
Life happened, of course, and our work project got pushed out until this month. And then I received the updated summons, reminding me of the task I could have sworn I would have remembered, if only I hadn’t forgotten.
I put it on my desk, intending to request another deferment, but for some reason, I never got around to it. There were leaves to rake, dishes to do, television to binge-watch, etc. The usual.
So last week, in a panic, I logged in to the jury duty site to see about another postponement, but I saw a weird notice that my service status was “ended.” As one does when one is lazy and tries to side-step conflict or ambiguity, I said, “Hey, great!” and went on my merry way.
Then today I started worrying again. What if I was supposed to show up and didn’t? Would police wearing masks come with six-foot-long giant tongs to arrest me, as they’re doing in India?
I decided to check the website again and maybe email somebody. This time, I got to a different section of the page, and saw a big, bright red box of text that said, “Due to the continuing closure of the courts, Jurors on standby for the week of 5/18/20 will not be required to report and your jury service has been ended.” Further down, under my Group Number, an even more formal declaration: “Your group is not needed (rude!?). Your service is complete. You do not need to check back. Thank you for making yourself available to serve as a juror.”
That’s how committed to civic duty I am: completing jury service even during a pandemic.
Even more charming is the notion that if I had gotten around to requesting another deferment earlier, I would probably have been called again later this year. Instead, the system, which apparently pictured me suiting up already and champing at the bit to get in there and start deciding things, thinks that I have completed my service, so I likely won’t be called back anytime soon.
And who said that procrastination never got anything done?