Honestly, it had never once crossed my mind. But it happened. I suppose I should start by telling you that, in my new home I’ve adopted a few routines, one of which is trekking down from my office mid-afternoon to check the mail. It’s not a really big deal. It’s something I do, now that I can. Mostly there are no surprises, just the usual junk mail which, as I recall, came in pretty handy when we were packing up all our belongings but is of much less use to me now. Most days I could probably forego the trip altogether but since I paid Canada Post the required fee to, apparently, make sure that all this junk mail got rerouted to my current address, I feel some obligation to at least retrieve it on a regular basis. I suppose it is nice to know that I could have ordered “two pizzas for the price of one” had I still lived anywhere near the designated delivery zone, which I don’t. So I was more than a little surprised the other day when I reached into the mailbox and discovered a rather official looking envelope with the now familiar yellow “reroute” label firmly attached, and a return address that made it quite clear that when I opened up this letter, I was going to find out all of the details I needed to know about where, when and how I should present myself for jury duty.
That’s right. I was summoned for jury duty by the province in which I no longer live. Thirty-eight years I lived in that town and not once did anyone ask me who was, or was not guilty of any particular crime. And now, all of a sudden, out of the blue, now that I no longer have to endure the bitter cold of the north winds, they picked me! Now they want me to decide the fate of some hooligan who had nothing better to do on a Saturday night than pilfer a poor, law-abiding citizen’s house. Or hold-up a gas station. Worse yet. They might ask me to decide whether some white collar guy who cooked the books so no one would know he had embezzled funds from his employer to cover his opulent lifestyle and nasty little gambling habit, should spend his remaining years sleeping on a cot beside “Dirty Joe” whose nickname is well deserved since (and I’ve only heard this third hand) showers are not mandatory in the slammer. And even if they were, no one would dare get close enough to Joe to make that happen. I’m no accountant. I wasn’t even good at math. How am I supposed to know if he was really entitled to his windfall or not? Besides, I have trouble some mornings deciding what colour t-shirt to put on, which for some people might seem like a reasonable dilemma, but not for me. The duds in my closet are pretty much black and white, which most of the aforementioned decisions I imagine, are not.
Fortunately for all involved, and that includes, me, my fellow jurors and the alleged culprits, (note I have no preconceived notions as to their guilt) I no longer reside in that province which, if I have read all of the instructions correctly, will disqualify me from my civic duty. At least I’ve applied to have it disqualify me from my civic duty and hopefully the clerk who makes those decisions will agree with my assessment of the situation. Not that I’ve changed that much since I left although things are quite a bit more laid back over here on the Island and perhaps, how should I put this, a bit more forgiving. Anyway, I’m guessing I’m off the hook but that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about how this all might have gone down if I wasn’t. You see, getting called for jury duty doesn’t mean that getting the gig is a slam dunk. You have to be chosen, the basis of which I understand is imparted to a select few, much like the code shared by magicians. Which left me with a heapful of questions, the answers to which would be dependant on whether I wanted to get picked or not. Like is it better to be dress prissy or maybe a little too hip? Although, pretty much regardless of circumstance, it’s never a good thing for someone my age to try to look a little too hip. Should I appear quiet or perhaps somewhat outspoken? Do they want a leader or a follower? Since I’ve always kind of danced to my own drum I’m not sure how to look like either of those. I suppose if I didn’t want to leave anything to chance I could look around when they called my name once or twice and finally respond with something like “I’m sorry. I just zoned out there for a few minutes. What was it you were asking?” I began to think that this whole thing was just one big decision after another, culminating in perhaps the most important decision of all. And that scared me quite a bit. Until it occurred to me. They would call me to the front of the room and it would go something like this:
Jury Picker: Please state your name
Jury Picker: And what do you do?
Me. I write a blog about being shallow. It’s called “Shallow be My Name”.
Jury Picker: Thank you very much for your time. You can be dismissed
Me: But wait. I haven’t even told you where I live yet.