Friday, July 15, 2005

jury duty

I reported to the State Supreme Court of Kings County at 8:45 am, as directed on my jury summons. I nervously clutched the letter from my doctor in my hand and a man gruffly directed to a large room in the ground floor, down a flight of a cavernous stairwell. I waited in a slow line and finally was face to face with the clerk, a small woman with a tight-lipped expression and brassy dyed hair. I said good morning and handed her the letter. She read it, re-read it, studied my jury summons, wrote something down, stamped the remaining portion of the summons and handed it back to me. I saw a glimpse of what she wrote. It said "exc" and "ret." I wonder what it means. "Exc" surely is "excused. "Ret"? Retired? Return? Retarded?

I have served on jury duty in Brooklyn twice before, but given the wild fluctuation in my moods and my inability to sleep, my doctor agreed with me that it would be best if I didn't serve this time. I was worried that it might be embarassing to have some clerk give me the third degree but she didn't ask me any questions.

After she handed me the letter and summons she said "have a nice day" and she smiled. I smiled back and said "you too." I feel most comfortable when people are kindly polite. I was raised to be that way myself. My mom was very strict about it, and so we are all, my brother and sister and I, almost absurdly good-mannered.

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