I don’t usually shy away from my civic responsibilities, but on this particular day I desperately wanted to avoid being selected for jury duty. Any other time I might enjoy dispensing a little justice in the world, but this was not the week. Today I was needed at the high school where I taught. Homecoming was only three days away and as the cheerleader coach, I did not want to miss any pep rally rehearsals. I am a former cheerleader myself and understand that not everyone fully appreciates my sport. I also realize that others may not see pep rally practice as a legitimate exemption, but I felt quite justified in my desire for a dismissal. It was homecoming after all.
As I sat on the hard pew, I tried to pay attention to the lawyers but my mind continually drifted to dance routines and pyramid formations. I tapped my feet quietly to the music in my head and worked out stunts with my fingers. The lawyers were asking questions, but my mind was else where. Two bits, four bits....
I glanced over at the couple who were suing their homebuilder for mental anguish. Puh-leeeze. I was in mental anguish having to listen to these lawyers go on and on when my cheerleaders needed me. Six bits, a dollar...
I’d heard you wouldn’t be selected for jury duty if you asked lots of questions and were opinionated. So far I had worked out a pyramid dismount in my head, but hadn’t asked a single question. I feared I might be stuck in the courtroom for days. All for the Bulldogs, stand up and holler.
“Does anyone else have a question?” a female lawyer in a boring navy suit asked.
For the sake of homecoming, I lifted my hand.
“Yes?” The lawyer turned her ice blue eyes to me.
I didn’t have a question, so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “If I’m selected, do I have to pay attention during the trial?”
The lawyer’s eyes widened. “Why don’t we ask the judge,” she said through tight lips. She slowly turned her head first and then her body toward the robed man sitting at the front of the room. “Judge?”
The tall, white-haired judge peered over his spectacles down at me. He did not look pleased at my question. “Is there a problem, Miss?”
I swallowed. “I just have trouble sitting still for a long time.”
The lady behind me, who incidently looked like she’d been sucking a lemon, spoke up. “I can testify to that. She’s been very distracting.”
My face burned from embarrassment. The lawyers from each side approached the judge and whispered amongst themselves. Finally the one in the navy suit asked me to approach the bench.
I walked obediently to the judge. Is this the way my students feel when they get sent to the principal’s office? He removed his glasses and leaned forward in his chair. His big hands were clasped in front of him.
“Is there a reason why you can’t concentrate during the trial?”
“Well, nothing’s been diagnosed. I just can’t pay attention that long.”
The judge stared silently at me.
I’d already made a fool of myself, so I decided to go for it. “And another thing. I don’t think those people look like they have suffered mental anguish.” I nodded toward the plaintiffs. “I wouldn’t give them two bits...I mean a penny.”
The judge sighed heavily. I had a feeling he knew exactly what I was doing. “You may go home.”
It took all my self control not to do a celebration hurkey right there in the courtroom. I tried to look disappointed, but I’m a cheerleader, not an actress. I picked up my purse and walked briskly out of the courtroom before anyone could change their mind.
As I got in the elevator and headed towards the parking garage, I glanced at my watch. I should make it back to the school just in time for practice. Hip-Hip-Hooray!
When the elevator doors opened and I entered the parking garage, my heart sank. As I stared at the sea of automobiles in the massive structure I realized I had no idea where I had parked. My inability to concentrate may have gotten me out of jury duty, but it also caused me to miss cheerleading practice. It took me two hours to find my car that day.
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