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Reporting for Duty

December 28, 2009

I’ve been a bad blogger. I’d love to make a New Year’s resolution to blog at least once a day, but let’s face it – I have a Life. It comes as quite a surprise to me, but I have got one. (I was watching the A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries last night so excuse me if I sound a little British.) I just can’t keep that resolution because I honestly believe that if I’m going to blog I should have something worthwhile to say, or at least some funny story to tell. My days have been full in the last couple weeks, but not with anything I’ve felt needed to be shared with the web. (Trust me, I’ve been sparing you.)

But that changed in the last ten minutes. I was sitting at my local Coffee Bean, minding my own business, working on The Practical Orphan’s Guide to Avoiding the Undead and a few miscellaneous essays in advance of next semester at USC, when it suddenly occurred to me that yesterday had been the 27th – which would make today the 28th.

The day I was supposed to report for jury duty.

Oh fuck.*

I had also somehow gotten it into my head that today was Tuesday. I have no idea why. I’ve had trouble figuring out what day of the week it is for months now, which, I guess, is what comes of working three jobs and then suddenly, miraculously, having a week off – it throws your entire schedule out of whack.

I threw all my things back into my bag and raced out of the Coffee Bean, certain that there would be an message on the answering machine issuing a warrant for my arrest for failure to report for my civic responsibility. At the very least I could expect a hefty fine, something my bank account wouldn’t appreciate. And it wasn’t like I had purposely planned to avoid jury duty – I’d even put a note in my iCal reminding me that I’d postponed to this date. What I’d forgotten to do, evidently, was include an alarm reminding me to call in over the weekend.

I’ve only been called in for jury duty once before, and sat around the downtown courthouse all day with an Amy Tan book. Near the end of the day I made it as far as a courtroom, but was dismissed because I was still in school, and the judge took pity on me. This summons was for the decidedly less busy Hollywood courthouse; as I ran home, a dozen difference scenarios ran through my head: could this have a negative impact on my credit score? Would I have a record? Would I be incarcerated? Would the great state of California forever look upon me as a jury dodger? Would I have people constantly harassing me, like that one creditor who calls our house regularly looking for a man named “Marlin Castillios”? (There has never been such a man at this residence, but try telling the automated messenger that.)

Yes, folks, these are  the sort of thoughts that run through my head when I come up against a (relatively insignificant) problem. Scary, isn’t it?

I got home and ran for the phone and my juror badge, hopping my way through the automated menu, hoping to speak to a real, live person and throw myself on the mercy of the court. It was an accident, I swear! I wasn’t trying to get out of it, I was just busy. And it was Christmas.  And I overslept this morning. Please, I’ll do anything, just don’t arrest me!

Of course, I couldn’t get through to a live person, and eventually, after ten minutes of mind-numbing musak, thought it might be worth trying the regular route, the one where you call and see if you’re even supposed to report that day. Sure it was 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but maybe my earlier failure to report would raise a red flag in the system, and create a shortcut to a human being with whom I could sort this mess out.

“You do not have to report for duty on Monday, December 28th. Please call again Monday, December 28th between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m,” said the recording. Failure to call in even one day this week could result in rescheduling my jury duty for another time.

That was it? I half expected a to hear a booming voice say, “A bounty hunter has been dispatched to your place of residence for your retrieval. Do not run. You cannot hide. We are coming for you.”

Or at least something about how calling when the day was already half over was a cheap way to get out of service. I mean, I’d postponed to this date precisely because I figured there wouldn’t be much going on in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but still.

At least I can release my breath and return to my regularly scheduled programming. At least until tonight when I call again and pray that they don’t want me tomorrow.

Let this signal the end of my blogger’s block, I hope interesting times are ahead.

*My exact thought, not an excuse for profanity.
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