Wednesday, I arrived at the county courthouse, with Little K in tow, to report for jury duty. You might remember that I tried informing the court secretary of my lack of childcare, but she could not have possibly cared less. So when I arrived to fulfill my civic duty, I was feeling a little smug and superior while holding the hand of 3 year old.
Then I walked into the courtroom and immediately regretted the decision to bring him (not that I had any other choice). I was met with nasty glares from the 49 other potential jurors. I imagine it was just jealousy. They were probably thinking, “That bitch is genius! I should have borrowed a kid to bring with me too!”
Then the judge entered to address us and sent a few nasty looks of his own my way while explaining that serving as a juror is a satisfying and fulfilling experience. He seemed extremely displeased with Little K's bright red ball-cap and stated that all hats needed to be removed. When I pulled it off of his head, the people directly behind me snickered, which made his majesty even more annoyed.
Little K , by the way, was behaving perfectly; quietly driving his cars and airplanes. And no, I did not sugar him up before we arrived.
We were given instructions to use the loo if necessary, and that the selection process would begin in fifteen minutes. Immediately after the judge exited, a stern looking woman made her way over to me. I imagine this is the same friendly secretary I spoke with on the phone. She snarled her nose and said in the least kind voice possible, “I need you two to come with me.”
I followed her, assuming that Little K and I would be dismissed immediately. Instead, we were led through a series of doors into the judge’s chambers where I was then scolded.
Here is the conversation that ensued:
Judge: I noticed you brought your child with you today.
Me: Yes I did.
Judge: Do you have a babysitter you will be calling?
Me: No I don’t. I explained to your secretary on the phone that I do not have childcare available.
Judge: You cannot bring a child into the courtroom.
Me: I understand that, and I want you to know that I do take this seriously. But, I don’t have childcare. We are not from this town and have no family here.
Judge: I CANNOT have a child in the courtroom.
Me: I had two options, they were to leave him home unattended or bring him with me.
Judge: I understand that. I am going to dismiss you today. But you WILL be called for jury duty again, and you WILL find a babysitter.
Me: Sir, I explained to you that I do not have childcare available. I’m not sure what you want me to do.
Judge: You WILL be called again for jury duty. You WILL NOT bring your child. You’re dismissed.
So apparently he didn’t have a well-balanced breakfast. Maybe I should write a letter explaining to him the importance of eating well, and that a good protein to carbohydrate ratio can really calm the nerves. Either that or the county is running low in meeting quota for child neglect cases, particularly those regarding unattended 3 year olds.
I called my dad to complain about how they spoke to me, but his response was, “You took Little K with you? Kid, you know better than that.” I know, but in my defense, I honestly did not have anyone available. I understand that the justice system doesn’t work without a jury, but I am first and foremost a mom. And I’m not certain all that sure that I’m fair and balanced. I’m probably fair, but definitely not balanced.
Silver lining: I wound up with a free day with Little K and didn’t have to stay for jury duty.
Random thought: Next time I’m called, I’m borrowing someone’s breast pump. I would like to walk in with it attached, and request access to a deep freeze. Surely they can’t keep you confined if you are a food source…
Also, that judge should have known how seriously I was taking my civic duty. I wore jeans, mascara, AND I curled my hair. No yoga pants = serious business.
Thanks for keeping me In Good Company.