Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Doing My "Duty"

Today, for the first time in memory (literally), my alarm went off. At six fifteen am. Regular blog readers know that I consider the lack of an alarm and the ability to not shop or travel on weekends to be two of the best parts of retirement. Even when it comes to quarterly blood work, I am willing to stop eating at ten at night in order to have the test later in the day.

So what got the lazy, non morning person retiree out of bed at six am?  Nothing other than jury duty, my friends, jury duty. After calling the evening before and finding out that no, I had NOT been kicked to the curb (excused), my only other choice was to be at the justice center (half an hour a way with no traffic) and in the jury room by seven forty five. And that would be AFTER going through security that would make the safest airports in the world look like pikers.

At age sixty five, I had never actually been on a jury duty before. I had gone in and been sent home, told not to report the night before, and in earlier years, let off because of child care and financial reasons. Being part of an experiment, we were questioned, approved, had the trial and came back with a verdict the same day. Efficiency, efficiency.

The end result was that we found a well dressed fifty nine year old business excecutive looking type guilty of DUI, with the nail in the proverbial coffin being that he had refused to take a blood test, all the while swearing that he was sober. While it took us awhile to come to terms, we were all more than thrilled when we found out afterwards that this fellow had six previous convictions and would probably see jail this time.

Truth is, I did not mind the day, other than the early hour. Sure, I would not have been happy if I had gotten the Aurora theater shooter trial and been locked up for months. But this trial, or even one that lasted a few days, was a small inconvenience at this point in my life. I learned more about Colorado law, watched some lawyers and police officers in action on the witness stand and had an educational experience.

The other reason I did not mind the day entirely is that while compromise, polite discourse and calm discussions may be a thing of past in much of our society, our jury room was a pretty good example of all those things and more. Although our ages ranged from twenty six to mid seventies, and although we came from all backgrounds, and although in the beginning we had some differing opinions on what the proper result should be.................we still managed to come to an agreement without throwing things, yelling at each other, calling each other names or any of the other behaviours so much a part of society as we see it.

I am a big believer in the idea that changing things, even at a national level, involves participating at the local level, or as one friend says "Volunteering is the most effective way to vote". I say this as we are now having our national elections, and I don't want to discount the importance of the election, or the necessity of voting, no matter what side you are on. It's truly an important part of our process as a nation.

The thing is though, that if we want to improve our country, state or town and make it better, voting for someone in Washington every four years is fairly ineffective as a single tactic. Change is made by all of us wherever we are. And the best way to help create change from the status quo is day to day or week to week.

Change involves being part of the process, volunteering and making yourself heard all the time, all year round. Today I just did one thing to be part of the process. Tomorrow, back to my normal, late sleeping, retirement lifestyle..................

And so it goes, this Tuesday night in retirement.


  1. Good for you, Barbara! I feel that jury duty, along with voting, are two of the most important acts we can take part in as citizens.

    My one experience of serving on a jury a few years ago totally changed my perception of the experience, and like you, I found my group of jurors to be capable of listening, disagreeing without rancour, and willing to compromise or change their attitude in order for us to reach an agreement (me included). It was quite a difference from all the negativity and arguing often experienced elsewhere.

    I will have an early wake-up next month. Don't know yet if I'll be selected for a jury, but I have no qualms about showing up (and going through that intense security).

  2. Many years ago I served my time on a jury and was quite surprised at how we in Canada are chosen.... Not at all like in the movies. Drat.

    The trial I was on lasted for 5 days, but we came to our decision calmly and quickly.

    Good for you, doing your duty is an amazing thing.

    God bless.

  3. I was in my twenties when I last served on a jury. That , too, was a DUI case -- convicted. I totally agree that effective change must come from the lower ranks up. We should all be wary of any one individual who believes and may even claim they alone will bring desired change.

  4. Excellent point that it all begins on the local level, even (groan!) doing jury duty. But I've also found in virtually every situation, except in national politics as egged on by the media, people tend to be reasonable, polite, willing to listen and even compromise.


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