And Now His Watch Has Ended

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Jury duty.

The words alone are enough to make you roll your eyes. It’s an oddly necessary evil that show itself once and a while and you’re forced to deal with it. A lot like family visiting for the holidays.

My younger brother and I apparently have a fine talent for getting selected to go in for Jury Duty. When I was living in Massachusetts I was called upon constantly. Only twice did I actually have to go in and both times were massive wastes.

My first time heading in for Jury Duty we were held there for the entire day. Thankfully I knew well enough to bring a book along with me and I read the entire thing. The only time I left the waiting room was when they released us for lunch. After being held hostage for the day, we were dismissed and thanked for our service.

Meaning, “thanks for letting us waste your entire day but not before making you watch really corny videos about the joys of Juty Duty.”

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The next time I had to go in was mildly terrifying because I was given badge #1. I pretty much felt certain that I was going to get sucked into having to sit on a jury and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Our day started with the horribly corny videos and just as I was settling in to start the book I had brought, we were dismissed.

I. WAS. PISSED.

There was NO REASON why they had to show us those stupid videos if they knew moments later they were going to be sending us on our way. WHO HURT YOU EVIL JURY DUTY MAN?! WERE YOU NOT HUGGED ENOUGH AS A CHILD?!

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I was in college at the time and still working nights at the grocery store. I also now had the day free having been excused from classes for Jury Duty and given the night off for the same reason. It was only 9:00 am and I could have easily headed to Salem for classes and even called work and said I’d come in to close.

I went and saw a movie and enjoyed the day instead.

Like an adult.

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Since moving to Florida I’ve been called upon a handful of times for Jury Duty and each of them I, thankfully, haven’t had to go in. It’s always a tad stressful though since you have no idea what’s going on until the night before it happens. Then you call and find out your fate.

It’s annoying.

Turns out though, it can get more annoying.

I was selected to participate in Jury Duty at a district court which is different from country court. They deal with federal stuff whereas the circuit court (which is what regular jury reports to) deal with local and state stuff.

And we have officially exceeded my knowledge of how any of this works.

I received the notice in late January that I would begin my nightmare, I mean service, in late February. There’re a handy little informational brochure the send along as well so long as your definition of helpful is that it wasn’t at all.

The notice said that I was on-call for service for two weeks. Meaning at any point during the two week period beginning on February 25th, I could be called to service. When you work in the restaurant business, this concept is barbaric. I also was concerned about finances.

If they call you in, you are paid $50 a day for your service. My job doesn’t pay for jury duty so I’d only be making $50 a day which is certainly not enough to cover my living expenses and once I figure that out, I became concerned. Early in February, I submitted my request to be excused from service citing financial hardship that would be caused even if I wasn’t called to service.

If you come at your employer telling them that there’s potential for you to have to call-out last minute for shifts, they’re just not going to schedule you.

I felt like I was up the creek without a paddle.

It felt a lot worse when they came back to me with a resounding “NO” saying that there was no legal basis for granting my request. Basically, they don’t care that I won’t be able to eat or pay bills or live.

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I was relieved when I called on the Friday before it was set to begin and told I didn’t have to report but would have to call again after 4pm the next Monday to find out about Tuesday. This was what the process was going to be for the next two weeks.

Naturally, this was a massive pain especially when it came to work. Thankfully we worked out a plan and I was kept on the schedule and we all prayed that I didn’t get called in. Then came a rather strange hiccup when a manager was transferred out of our store. As a shift leader, I was given the opportunity to step up and take on more responsibilities.

The problem was going from a bartender that may have to call out to a leader that might have to call out.

Not a pain at all.

I called the “Jury Help Line” to see what could be done about my service and possibly move it to another time that was less complicated for my job and me. I had the lovely pleasure of having to explain the entire situation to an answering machine with the promise that I’d hear back in 24-72 hours. This was helpful in that it totally wasn’t.

I would quickly like the record to show that I made that phone call on Monday February 25th and it is now Friday March 8th and I still haven’t received a call back.

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It was a relief when I called on that first Tuesday to hear that I didn’t need to call again until Friday. This meant I had the week to work without stressing what was going to happen. My Friday call went the same at the previous, saying I was good until Monday night. Monday had me calling for Tuesday and Tuesday for Wednesday.

This was annoying but at least I wasn’t having to go in. Though I started getting super paranoid that I was going to be called in on the last day and then put through to a jury and have to be held hostage by the courts for who knows how long.

Mercifully, when I called on Wednesday the message thanked me for my service and said that I was no longer needed and didn’t have to call again unless I received a new summons.

The nightmare ended.

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Now, don’t ya’ll come at me talking about civic duty and honor to serve and all that. I totally get it and I know I have the civic obligation to participate as a jury of one’s peers. Totally get it. But when something like this has the potential to put an unnecessary burden on myself.

More so, have the decency to call someone back when your little robot machine promises you will.

My thinking is that rather than having to deal with me at all they just bumped me down to the bottom of the list rather than actually having to talk to me. Between my request to be excused and my moderately rambling phone call, they probably figured I’d be the worst to have to actually deal with.

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So I’m free for now, until that evil little envelope shows up in my mailbox again. It’s probably a mistake to complain like this online. The little FBI man that monitors my life might put me on a list to be summoned constantly.

Jokes on them, I have a lot of books I still haven’t read and being locked in a room with no electronics is a freaking vacation for me at this point.

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1 comments on “And Now His Watch Has Ended”

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