It never comes on a day that you feel good about it happening. It always comes when you can add the phrase, "and on top of all of that, I got a summons for jury duty." I spent the day doing community service - I'm a teacher in the public schools. When the day was over, I helped another teacher with the jammed copy machine. Then I made a plan to clear out the debris and detritus from the teacher's lounge - including two microwave ovens that have long since lost their sense of purpose. I rode my bike home, stopped at the mailbox, and there it was: the punctuation for my day.
I have horribly mixed feelings about being asked to be on a jury. I have the same initial reaction that most people do. I start to think of all the reasons why I should be excused. I have relatives in law enforcement. I am a fourth grade teacher who needs to keep a vigilant eye on his young charges. I have a low threshold for boredom. I don't like enclosed rooms or strangers. I have a violent aversion to the notion of justice.
It's a panic response, I confess, but it is the one that always surfaces first. Why Me? Then I start to consider the alternative. The concept of a jury of one's peers seems pretty unlikely if only the people dumb enough not to get out of jury duty are actually on jury duty. Remember the big splash Oprah made a while back by allowing herself to serve on a jury? Shouldn't that be the norm, rather than the exception? And if that is my expectation, shouldn't I be doing everything I can to be a participant myself?
There was a time when I didn't vote. Then a friend of mine pointed out that there were people all over the world who were willing to stand in line for days and brave death threats just for the opportunity to be a part of a democratic process. I have that same feeling about serving on a jury. How would I feel if I looked up from my attorney's table and looked into the jury box to see a group of people whose idea of intellectual stimulation is "Entertainment Tonight?" I would want the system working for me.
Still, when I make the phone call (I've got a month to sweat it) I hope the recorded voice will tell me that I won't be needed - this time.