Most days my apartment mailbox is empty.
There are some days when I’ll look through the tiny window and notice a shadow. Usually that means I’m in for some heartfelt and needy love, usually from Canadian Tire or Sears or IKEA.
Most bills are sent electronically, so it’s rare that any requests for money hit my mailbox, unless it’s a charity – and most of those don’t even know I exist anymore.
So when I opened the box a few months ago, I was surprised to see an official envelope with the provincial government seal on it. My license and health card won’t expire for at least five years. I wondered….could it be….?
I tore open the envelope. It was exactly as I thought: a long overdue notice about jury duty. Only in this case, it was a questionnaire to see if I qualified to serve.
I answered their questions. No, I hardly ever exhibit misogynist tendencies and almost always eschew homophobic or bigoted thoughts. As for criminal records well, they never did catch me, so I was clear there.
Ergo, in the minds of the court, I would do just fine.
Skip to a few months later (last week actually), and the summons to appear for the jury pool showed up in that same mailbox.
I wondered about that. How did they know I’d get it for sure? There was nothing special about the mail – I didn’t have to sign for it. As far as they knew, I could have been away on holiday. Or I could have been on a three-day bender, and was now suffering in a hospital bed, trying to recover.
Anyway, tomorrow I have to show up for the jury pool.
It’s funny: when you’re younger you tend to judge people quickly. If the waitress doesn’t pay enough attention to you, it’s because she’s an out-and-out bitch – and you tip her accordingly. If someone frowns at you it’s because they’re just stupid.
It never occurs to you that most of the seemingly negative behaviours people exhibit rarely have anything to do with you. That waitress could be worried about a sick child at home. The guy who just frowned at you was probably thinking about a phone call from a creditor he’d received that morning. It’s just your bad luck that you were on the receiving end of his thousand-yard stare.
It takes a while – and some maturing – to realize that we’re all in this struggle together, and that some of us are just better than others at handling it.
You learn, eventually, to grant people some space, and to give them the benefit of the doubt. You learn not to take things so personally, and to be graceful when you can.
Instead of insisting on drama, you learn how to relax. You stop yelling at drivers on the road when you’re in your car. You let them scramble to get in front of you, because the place your going is still going to be there, whether you arrive 30 seconds early or late. (Anyway, they’re all only racing to see who can get to the red light first).
You learn to laugh. Your tendency now is to hear all sides of a story before making a judgement. That alone makes you probably an ideal candidate for jury duty.I’m looking forward to playing my part in whatever trial awaits.
Though I don’t know who the defendant will be or what they’re saying he’s done, I’m pretty sure the dirty rotten bastard did it anyway.
If I enlighten the judge with this important information early, maybe I’ll be home before dinner.