Monday, October 19, 2009
Today, I was summoned to Federal Court for jury duty. It was inevitable. Ever since registering to vote, they somehow snag me every two years. While I certainly wasn't looking forward to it, there's always a certain amount of intrigue involved, especially when it's a Federal case.
I was in it for the long haul; Jim had taken the day off to stay home with the kids, and run Peri to and from her preschool class, and I had packed a of couple snack bars and some magazines. Rather than attempting all of the numerous one-ways and parking downtown, I decided to take the light rail system, and after what seemed like forever (really only about an hour) I arrived downtown and walked the few blocks to the courthouse.
It was really impressive, clean and organized. Everything I wished I had at home. At least my tax dollars were paying for someone's "house" to look nice. I checked in and waited with the 50 or so other people until we were eventually called into the courtroom. We filed in and waited for the judge to enter. Once he did, he briefly went over the type of case we were dealing with and introduced the courtroom staff. Then sixteen names were called and those people went and sat down in the jury box.
It was a wrongful death case and the judge informed everyone that it would take about 2 weeks to complete and if anyone had a conflict, they needed to speak up now. Immediately, one woman raised her hand and said that she had a medical condition and she was being treated that week. The judge excused her and a replacement name was called. Me.
I walked over and took her empty seat and the judge asked me if I had any conflicts.
Me: Yes, I have two children that I tend to at home. And I don't think I can find childcare.
Judge: You need to give me more than that.
Me: My husband is home with them today, but he can't take off the next two weeks from work.
Judge: You're unable to make arrangements?
Me: I would have to find some kind of childcare and one of them needs to be taken to and from preschool.
Judge: *sigh* (very reluctantly) You're excused. And I find you guilty of breeding.
Okay, he didn't say that last part, but he might as well have. I felt like I was on trial, having to justify my need to be excused. I'm sorry, you want me to find childcare for my two kids, for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow and you're only willing to give me $40/day to cover all of my expenses? On what planet?! If I could afford childcare, do you think I'd be watching my kids? And forget about the fact that it's hard enough to find a sitter to watch my kids two weeks from now, let alone for the next two weeks starting tomorrow. At first I felt guilty, as I walked away from the courthouse, but then I was just annoyed. I stay home with my kids, I hardly have time for me, what makes you think I have extra time for you? Call me back in two years (because you know you will) and we'll talk then, but I shouldn't be made to feel guilty because I can't help you out now.
I admit that it would have been an interesting case to have sat in on, but seriously, how many stay at home parents are even able to do something like this? On the bright side, I did get out of sitting through the rest of the jury selection process, since I was the first alternate called, and I wonder how many other parents were sitting out there waiting for their turn. Next time, they should have a stay at home parent pre-screening process, where you're automatically exempt, as a courtesy, for dealing with the trials and tribulations of staying home with children. Then they should give you ear plugs and a chocolate bar before sending you back out into the world.