Okay, you didn’t. But I did.
Today I fulfilled one of America’s most dreaded civic duties. It is more fear inspiring than the duty to pay taxes. It is more aggravating than a parking ticket. It is more time consuming than the DMV.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s because you yourself have never had to do it. And if you have, you know.
I was summoned for jury duty.
Now this may come as a bit of a shock to you — since as you know, I am an attorney — but there is nothing in this world that I dread more than a day in court.
There. I said it.
I am a transactional attorney, which means that I rarely make appearances in court. I spend my days negotiating and writing contracts and other commercial documents; and while there are occasionally some hot issues, I never really have to put my dukes up, and rarely need to leave the sanctity of my office. However, back in the earlier days of my career, when I worked for three screeching howler monkeys, I made some pretty regular appearances at New York Supreme. And I can tell you without a shred of doubt that the only redeeming thing about that stinking hell hole is its proximity to Century 21.
Sure, I didn’t have to litigate anything today, but the very thought of appearing in court was enough to send me on an emotional tailspin for days. I haven’t slept more than five consecutive hours since Saturday.
There are so many things that I dislike about court: the stodgy old government buildings; the tension caused by the fact that everyone is there because they are engaged in some sort of fight with someone else; the way it always feels both freezing and boiling hot at the same time. I mean, how is that even possible?
I also hate the bad salads that I feel both compelled and forced to eat when near a courthouse. I always seem to end up at some run-down dinette eating stale lettuce and listening to 80’s rock ballads. I love 80’s rock ballads, but listening to them in such a venue seems like an insult to the entire decade.
I’m sort of okay with going to Surrogate’s Court. It’s easier when one of the parties is dead. There’s less frustration, less contention and the clerks are not as bitchy.
I’m also okay with going to Federal Court. I’ve only been as an intern (when I didn’t have to do anything) and to get sworn in to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Getting sworn in was pretty painless. My boss sponsored me in the Southern District and used his affirmation as free ad time for the firm. Then I hopped the subway to Brooklyn and waived in to the Eastern District. I got out of the office for half of the day and didn’t even have to fight with anyone. That’s what I call a good day in court.
Ugh. But every.single.other.time I’ve been to court, I’ve gotten yelled at by someone: a clerk, opposing counsel, a client, my boss, the judge. I dread the prospect of being yelled at.
Fortunately, nobody yelled at me today. More fortunately still, I wasn’t actually selected to participate in a jury. I did appear in two courtrooms and was questioned by two different judges. Both times, I stood there shaking like a leaf, barely able to raise my voice above a whisper.
I don’t know why exactly going to court makes me feel that way.
I do think that I made the day significantly better by getting up early and running four dark miles. I was calm when I arrived in court and kept myself collected for most of the day. Actually being in a courtroom was the stressful part, and thankfully that did not represent the whole day.
It’s amazing how doing one thing for yourself in the morning has a way of making the rest of the day so much better.