Thursday, August 24, 2006

Juror Saves the Public Buckets of Money by Riding Bike to Courthouse

Tuesday, when I reported for jury duty, I didn’t get called up till 11:00 A.M. Up till then I was happily camped out in a soft squishy chair in the huge waiting room with my book. At 11:00, though, I got called for the group that (surprise!) had to go to Gresham. For this I was not happy.

For those of you not from around here, Gresham is a whole 'nother city. To someone only recently arrived at the level of civic responsibility at which I actually embraced jury duty, this was seriously pushing it.

At this point I want to emphasize that every single person I dealt with at the courthouse in downtown Portland was absolutely stellar. They were as respectful to us as if ….. as if we were law-abiding U.S. citizens. They kept in mind that we were not at the courthouse because we’d run amuck of the law, but because we were giving our time.

After overhearing one particular conversation, I can say that they were polite way past the call of duty. This one woman lined up to complain that her name had been called out as “Susan” and her name was actually “Suzy.” You see? That would have broken right through my politeness threshold, had I been staff person she was addressing. I would’ve told her to get over it and roll with “Susan” for the next few hours, it wouldn’t kill her, and that after that she could go home and forget about the whole traumatic experience. But no, that staff person, whose name I think was Mary Anne, said “Well, give me your papers and let’s see if we can get it right.”
Good grief! I’ve been told I’m a patient person, but I pass my patience medal on to Mary Anne.

Did you know that they’ll actually reimburse you for transportation costs when you go for jury duty? They have you write down your costs on the form. Since I rode my bike down, I had no costs. Probably I could have legitimately counted my breakfast as a fuel expense, but I’m too mature for that kind of rationalizing (though I still thought of it).

The announcer guy said that we could choose not to be reimbursed and that money would go into a pot to buy amenities for the waiting room. So far, he said, the saved money had been used to buy the nice soft chairs we were sitting in. And even though the chairs had absolutely no back support whatsoever, they were indeed cushy, for which I was extremely grateful.

What I was not grateful for was the television, which the man said was the next amenity they bought. My wait was perfectly pleasant until someone turned on a game show, at which point it became perfectly unpleasant. If you wanted to either 1.torture me, or 2. drive me to homicide, all you’d have to do is put me in a room with daytime TV (or anytime TV) for a mere couple of hours. I absolutely cannot take this. So at this point my generous feeling about not costing the court any transportation reimbursement did a complete flip and I suddenly felt stingy. But my feeling flipped back when it occurred to me that even further saved money could be used to buy headphones for the TV people.

I retreated to the corner of the (fortunately very large) room farthest from the TV and huddled deeper into my book and chair. Luckily I was called up after only another half hour. Unluckily I got Gresham.

Tomorrow I’ll write about how I saved the court even more transportation reimbursement by riding my bike to Gresham.


At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earplugs, girlfriend. I carry them everywhere.


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