This is one of those weeks I’d like to forget. Seems the folks at North-Worst Disoriented couldn’t manage to get one plane to land in Detroit before any one of three others took off. Thus, I was stuck in one of the top ten murder cities for a night, despite the fact my plane was slated to leave Boston at 4:20 p.m.

When I got home, I had jury duty on the brain. Seems this is the price you pay for trying to make sure we didn’t have four years of Grandpa Cranky and You Betcha running the country. In any case, the first day, I got excused, but the second day, the “Jury Hot Line” told me I’m due. I’ve got a Ph.D., I was a working journalist who covered police and courts, I’ve got no fewer than three immediate family members along with at least a dozen close friends who work or have worked for the PoPo and I can generally tell when I’m being bullshitted. So, I’m going to have to trek my ass down there and be told by two lawyers, “Shit, no, we’re not taking this guy.” (UPDATE: I was right. Gone in less than an hour, and half of that time was watching “the video” that told me how awesome this was gong to be.)

There has been a ton more stuff than that, but that’s not really the point…

Upon Tweeting about my flight experience, I had two decent friends peck back with “If you think you’ve got it bad, look at what happened to these people…” One of them tossed me a link to the story about the 47 people who were trapped on the plane from hell. When I bitched about jury duty, it was the same thing: A friend did the, “If you think you’ve got it bad, I’ve had to go THREE TIMES and to a REAL court where REAL crime happens.”

When people commiserate, I don’t have a problem. I’m not out there trying to tell people I’ve got the worst of something or that I alone have ever had to suffer this level of indignity and woe is me. It’s more of a “Dammit, this sucks. Can I get a witness?” thing. However, why is it people feel the need to go with the one-up thing? Does that make me feel better? No. Does it improve something for them? No. Does it have any value at all? No.

I don’t doubt for one second that there are people out there far worse than me. In fact, if you want to just beat the shit out of me, you can always do the, “Y’know there are kids dying of dysentery in Africa every minute” thing. I’m Catholic. Guilt is biologically etched on all of my chromosomes. Still, I think good friends listen, nod and at least don’t act like general assholes about it by reminding me that I’ve still got my health.

So, if you’d like to tell me you just got a speeding ticket or that you got hit in the head with a shovel or that you were on a flight that crashed into the ocean after sucking a waterfowl into the intake manifold, I’m happy to hear it. Post it below. Know that I’m reading, nodding and I won’t come back with “If you think that’s bad, there was this one time where Richard Gere showed up at my house with three thugs, a 12-pack of gerbils and 500 yards of duct tape…”

17 thoughts on “One-Up-Yours

  1. People always say misery loves company. I think exactly the opposite. Misery hates company. Misery wants to be alone in its specialness and its certainty that no one else has ever felt such pain, whether we’re talking a hangnail or a death. I would much rather you say to me, “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard of,” even if it’s a lie, than, “Oh yeah? My sister had the same thing, only hers was worse, etc etc.”
    Sometimes it’s useful to remember other people have come out of the other side of whatever you’re facing, but more often than not I don’t want to hear it’s gonna be okay. I want to hear that it might not be okay, the world might cave in, but that if it does, we will all find a way to survive.

  2. Biking in to work this morning, I misjudged the weather, wore long pants, and got really sweaty. You cannot imagine how terrible this is; my life is ruined.

  3. I will never get selected either – for some of the same reasons BUT I don’t get to leave after being excused. I have to spend an entire day reporting to courtrooms and being excused.
    Take that!
    More seriously, trying volunteering to attempt to change how your city conducts planning – just in one area. Three years of effort, mind numbing talking points from us/them, egos, lies, sex, dirt, intrigue, co-ordinating hundreds of people and spending your own money to achive not very much so far.
    It’s for a park.

  4. Ah, well, after that, I guess there’s no point in saying that jury duty is three months long where I am…
    But, one of the best things about jury duty is that, every three years, it reintroduces me to the authoritarian tendencies and ingrown prejudices of my neighbors.

  5. I’ve never had jury duty, but I’ve always wanted to. You were so lucky! Sorry they didn’t let you go all the way! Maybe next time.

  6. I ran out of coffee this morning except for the dregs that were in the bottle of my instant jar. So I made some kind of 5% coffee solution which was so lame I added sugar just to make it 5% coffee solution with sugar which I don’t take in my coffee just so I wouldn’t be drinking brown water.
    I’ve never had jury duty but I once was in court as a defendant over a drunken dispute involving a bag of popcorn and thanks to a typo I was listed on the docket for grand larceny. That only took 3 more appearances and 3 months to straighten out.
    But I cranked ‘Badlands’ this AM and am enjoying my hot brown sweet water so life is beautiful!

  7. I laundered my watch earlier this week (it’s fine, but I had kind of a heart attack about it; it’snot replaceable), my landlady is moving to another city and raising my rent fifty bucks (with anotherillegal rent increase in January — nothing I can do about it besides move, though); I’m being squeezed by food costs already, and no help in sight; and my boyfriend dumped me.
    Getting caught in Flight Hell sucks.

  8. Well, as a paralegal, I have to say that I grow incredibly weary of people bitching about jury duty and assuming they are too important/connected to ever, ever serve on a jury. Sure, I suppose the courts could excuse every Ph.D./professional/person who knows cops, attorneys, etc., but you know what that would leave us with for a jury pool? The most uneducated, reclusive people on the planet. Trust me, the prosecutor LOVES those kinds of juries because they’ll buy anything the government wants to sell them. Defense attorneys really like to have an educated jury–at least you have a chance with them.
    So please, quit your complaining about jury duty–and ESPECIALLY quit saying you are far too important to do such a stupid thing! Good god–it’s not like you’ve been conscripted into the Marines and sent to Afghanistan. It’s a chance to participate in our justice system–and it’s pretty damn important. More important than you, as a matter of fact.

  9. the danish cough i picked up in my 03 trip got me off a LONG boring trial. i just knew it would be tedious. never so happy to have an uncontrollable cough.

  10. Sometimes, it’s not whether you think you’re too “important” to be on a jusy, it’s whether you want to waste a day sitting at the courthouse when you know damn well you’ll be disqualified. I was a reporter 27 years ago, I have friends on the police force and others who have been in jail, and I’ve been tossed out of jury pools for both reasons.

  11. “Upon Tweeting about my flight experience, I had two decent friends peck back… why is it people feel the need to go with the one-up thing? Does that make me feel better? No. Does it improve something for them? No. Does it have any value at all? No.”
    You think that’s bad? I’ve had THREE OR FOUR decent friends do much the same thing to me… oops. Never mind.

  12. I love jury duty. Why?
    I get a free bus pass home from the courthouse downtown and six bucks. (Tax-free.)
    Back when I worked for the State of Texas (I’ll probably never sit on a jury again unless I get called for a Federal one, and I haven’t had the questionnaire sent me), I worked in the Department of State Health Services (aka the Health Dept.) and was around INSURANCE all the time. There goes every civil trial you can shake a stick at. Before that I wasn’t just a reporter / copyeditor / photog, in the dark ages I was a cop, in the US Air Force no less. There goes every criminal trial you can shake a stick at. But going is fun ’cause everybody else is pissed off about having to be there, but I get a bus pass, a free courthouse coffee, and … however long I’m there I can read or crochet or yak with the next seat over. No cellphones allowed. It’s like going back in time …
    Plus if you work for the State, Jury Duty means they don’t dock your leave while you’re absent (and riding the bus back to work took nearly the other half the day: after the jury’d been impaneled and sent upstairs, the parties reached a plea agreement at 1:15 p.m. I got back to work at 4. Heh. Got my six bucks in the mail, too. Well, okay, a check for it, but still.)

  13. Last time I was called to Jury Duty, we were a one-car family, I was work-at-home in a start-up. Cambridge would have been fine, but NOOOO, they wanted me someplace 25-some miles away, at 8am, dressed in a respectful fashion. It’s accessible from outbound commuter rail, first train arrives at 9:50am. I wasn’t riding my bike nearly so much then, either.
    I was excused, and apparently got entered into their database as some sort of a transportation-troublemaker, haven’t heard from them since.
    As far as the PhD or lack thereof on the jury, generally, higher education does seem to get you kicked off.

  14. As far as the PhD or lack thereof on the jury, generally, higher education does seem to get you kicked off.
    Possibly, sometimes on criminal trials, but on civil trials, both sides are looking for someone who can figure out the paths through the weeds they’re planning.
    I appeared for a trial in that same Cambridge about twenty years ago, which had already been to trial three times. It involved a guy on a motorcycle hit by a car driven by a dentist just leaving his office–every time the plaintiffs found a new insurance policy, bam, back into court they went.
    Believe me, they look hard at the juror information sheets. They’d called forty-four people to fill a 14-person jury. I was #38. I figured, no way I’m going to be selected–they’ll fill before they ever get to me. They selected #11, and between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers, they went through seven of their remaining nine peremptory challenges to get to me.
    Why? Two university degrees, a master mechanic’s license and working as an engineering research technician. They wanted someone who could figure out the technical details of expert witnesses, accident data, etc.

Comments are closed.