Yes, I know it’s been almost four years. And yes, I know I said I would continue to write. And yes, I said I would continue to blog. But, (spoiler alert) I didn’t. Requisite excuses and mea culpas to come in a future post.
Fast forward to November of 2016 and writing is the last thing on my mind. But over lunch one day, my dear husband turns to me and says, “I know what I want for Christmas… I want you to write a blog.”
Err, excuse me? While I was fully prepared to Amazon his gift of choice with just a few taps of my nimble fingers, I was not prepared for this. What do I write about? How do I even start? When do I have the time?!?! It was the start of the Christmas season and don’t laugh, you legitimately employed readers, my busiest time of the year! There are cookies to be baked, gifts to be bought, presents to be mailed, cards to be addressed, donations to be given, kids activities to volunteer for, parties to attend, friends to host…and don’t get me started on that damn elf! Yes, I know…I can barely write this with a straight face. I never said I was trying to send a man to the moon. I’m a housewife, people. This is what I do.
Then, as if the gods could hear my frantic inner monologue, what appears in my mailbox but a jury summons? For the two weeks in December leading up to Christmas, I would be forced to sit in a room full of strangers who had also “won” a civic lottery of sorts with absolutely nothing to do. No running last-minute errands, no post office trips at the eleventh hour, and no cursing like a drunk sailor while wrapping Christmas gifts when the girls are in school. Instead, I’d have to compress all of my tasks and finish by the 9th. The 9th!!! I needed smelling salts just thinking about it.
While I bemoaned my fate, I received tons of advice on how to escape jury duty. My favorite was from my well-meaning aunt in Dallas given over pre-Thanksgiving drinks: pretend I don’t speak English. I won’t lie; I did entertain the idea for half a second. But when I realized the only things I could spout in Korean were restaurant menu items (Kimchi! Galbi! Bibimbop!), I put on my Star Spangled Banner big girl panties and reported to dungeon-like basement of the Hennepin County Government Center on December 12th to fulfill my civic duty.
I won’t bore you with the minutiae of sitting on my butt, minute after excruciating minute, waiting to see if I would be needed to serve. Because if I did, it would look something like this:
9:23AM- Threw away old receipts from my wallet and spent 20 seconds in silent shame reflecting on my horrid fast food addiction
9:26AM- Tried not to judge the man sitting next to me who was precariously close to invading my personal space because he was falling asleep
9:27AM- Ate a KIND bar
You get the picture. My only real source of entertainment was sending my dear husband texts throughout the day informing him of various chores that he needed to do for me. He was not amused, but me? I felt drunk with power! I finally knew what it was like to have my very own housewife!
By the end of the first day, I was almost delirious with boredom. Just when I thought the hallucinations would start, I heard my name called. They needed a group of 24 to be interviewed for a criminal case. Our group was whisked away to one of the many courtrooms in the government center. Please note: when I say “whisked”, I mean with all the rapidity of any government agency. This involved a glacial TSA-like security check, a slow crawl up a rickety freight elevator to the 7th floor, and yet another mind-numbing 32 minute wait in the hallway of the courtroom. The wheels of justice are anything but swift.
In the courtroom, our group was interviewed by the judge and attorneys on everything from our employment history to criminal records. The interview lasted into the following day and well, I didn’t make the cut. Despite not having a criminal history and not having served in law enforcement myself (apparently, being sheriff of my house doesn’t count), I was let go. And while I could write a whole ‘nother blog about my feelings of rejection and unworthiness (ha ha), I’ll leave you with this. The group interview process was an unexpected gift. It was a reminder to me that 1) I am a lucky woman and 2) to be kind and respectful to your fellow human beings with an open and understanding heart.
With no electronics to distract me and no way to multitask, I heard the stories of 23 other people who like me, were randomly selected for jury duty. Within this microcosm of our population, I listened as women admitted to being sexually assaulted or abused and others confessed to having been homeless. Many talked of their own struggle with drug addiction and some admitted to having served jail time. One shared that family members had been shot and killed while another told of how her father was currently serving life for murder. They also talked about their children, relatives, and other loved ones and while we might have been from varying backrgrounds, we all had the capacity to love, forgive, and endure. In the age of soundbites and Twitter, you forget that there is a whole life history behind each person that can’t be summarized in 140 characters or less. Sitting in that courtroom, all I could do was listen, feel, be thankful, and promise myself to do more to help my fellow men and women. What more can you ask for from Christmas?
As I said, I wasn’t selected for this particular case and spent another day in the “pit” waiting to see if I would be needed for another. I started this post that day out of a combination of boredom and inspiration. And at the end of the third day, the county released all jurors and I found myself with a second gift: a calendar that was now completely clear for the one and half weeks leading up to Christmas. So thank you, Hennepin County, for the gift of time and the gift of heart. Merry Christmas, everyone and Merry Christmas, honey! Thanks for making me do this.