The jury is out

A few weeks ago, I was doing my customary “find the two pieces of noteworthy mail which the postman has thoughtfully wrapped in Crate & Barrel catalogs, Jim Boys Tacos discount coupon leaflets and wedged between two offers for platinum not-a-soul-in-the-world-accepts-these, not-to-mention-that-you-have-the-credit-of-a-two-year-old-with-a-gambling-problem Diner’s Club credit cards” toss, toss, toss, tuck, toss, toss, toss routine over the recycling bin, doing my darnedest to ignore the inch-wide Interstate expressway of ants that treat said bin as their very own Hometown Buffet, when a somewhat official-looking envelope catches my eye. I open it, keeper-mail safely tucked under one arm and a nice stack of junk-mail piled onto the trash (probably destined to be turned into decorator napkins by the never-ending stream of ants) and start giggling.

They’re calling me up for jury duty. Ah. The wonders of governmental non-sharing of information where it would actually be convenient for people. As opposed to the oodles of sharing they are capable of when it comes to inconveniencing you, of course. Share it all, I say… at least we’d get something positive out of Big Brother rather than the current “they’re not allowed to share information, so they won’t” naivete that completely drives me up the wall at times. But maybe that’s just me, and maybe that wasn’t the topic.

I’m quite sure it wasn’t. But what was? Ah, yes, they were requesting me to appear for jury duty. Regardless of my opinion about leaving potential matters of (legal) life and death be decided by a dozen randomly picked yokels (and before you start, that means yours truly included), there is the small matter of me not being a citizen, but a permanent resident, and am therefore ineligible to vote, be president or sit in judgement of others. So, no hair off my back — halfway through the first paragraph, I stop reading and chuck it on top of the stack in the bin, crushing a few ants in the process but on the other hand providing ample material for a picnic blanket or two for their surviving relatives. My arm was starting to cramp up from holding up the few catalogues I am forbidden to shortcut to their final destination, and I have better things to do.

My memory being what it is, I forget all about it before I even am inside.

Fast forward to last Friday. I receive this:

Yikes. So on the phone I jump this morning. How bad could it be?

“Welcome to the Sacramento Court Jury automated voice system.”

Oh crap.

“When you are ready to proceed, slowly and clearly say ONE.”

Oh no. Oh hell no. As much progress as voice recognition has made in the past decade or so, point me to a single living soul who has used one of those systems over the phone and not found him or herself enunciating like a drunk, deaf cousin of Lurch.

“If you prefer to use your touch-tone phone, press 1 now.”

Huzzah! My bloodpressure plummets back to safe and healthful levels, and I plow on.

“If you want information about your specific jury duty, press 1 now.”

Hmm. No, not really. What else?

“If you want information about jury duty, press 2 now.”

Getting worse. Next one must be it.

“For more information, visit our website at saccourt.org. That is s, a, c, c, o, u, r, t, dot, o, r, g.”

Uhhh….

“No input was received.”

“If you want information about your specific—“

I hit 1.

“We need your juror number to proceed. Type in all 9 digits including the two leading zeroes–“

I hit 0, and right away, the phone changes to the sound of ringing.

Huh? Oh well.

Click – Click – Busy signal.

Very odd. Let me try again.

“Welcome to the—“

1.

“If you want info—“

1.

“We need your juror number to proceed. Type in all 9 digits including the two leading zeroes. If you know your juror number, press 1. Otherwise, press 0.”

Aha! I see the problem. I hit 1, and type in my number.

“You entered 0, 0, yakka yakka yakka. If that is correct, press 1.”

I duly press 1.

“Your call will now be transferred.”

Click – Click – Shard of waiting muzak – Click – Click – Busy signal.

I am at this point, predictably, ready for a large helping of perspective and soda. I try again, with identical results. I wait half an hour, try again, and the only difference is that I actually get 10 full seconds of waiting muzak. An hour later, I decide to try again. Heck, they did say “monetary sanctions”, two words I very much dislike being together that way and especially when potentially being applicable to me.

Click – Click – Ring – Muzak – Ring – Click – Ring, Ring, Ring…

And an actual person answers! Huzzah!

“Hello. I’ve received a Failure To Appear notice.”

“Ah. What is your juror number?”

For crying out loud. What the hell is wrong with large, well-funded institutions? Is it truly such rocket science to tie your IVR to your workflow system? I’ve had this with state, county, banks, HMOs and it is absolutely pathetic. I double-dog dare someone to defend to me why this is even hard to do, let alone impossible.

I smile, grind my teeth and repeat the number I had pounded dutifully into the IVR about 25 seconds before.

“Well, we have openings in January.”

“That’s great, but there’s a problem.”

“Oh?”

“I’m not a citizen.”

“Oh.”

Five seconds of silence.

“You didn’t fill out the form on the summons and returned it?”

“No, sorry, I kind of tuned out after reading ‘You have been summoned for Jury Duty’.”

“Well, you really should have, you know.”

Paging Captain Obvious, paging Captain Obvious. Someone here is trying to take over your turf. I should have? Fan-fricking-tabulous. I am now so much smarter than I was five seconds ago. I mean, the “your failure to appear is punishable by contempt of court” part on the notice did not clue me in to that whatsoever.

Smile, grit, et cetera.

“I figured that.”

“So you are not a citizen?”

Smile, grit…

“No.”

“Okay, then you’re excused. I’ve made a note of it. Thank you.”

“Uhhh… thank you?”

Click.

WHA WHA WHAAAAT? They don’t even check?! Holy crap.

You heard it here first folks… if you want to get out of jury duty, just wait for your FTA notice and call it in. Just another public service I am happy to provide.

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