I sucked it up and attended jury duty this morning. It was not a pleasant experience!
On my juror application, I stressed that I would not be a good candidate for jury duty due to problems with social anxiety. I cited the college statistics final where, after being the only person in the class who hadn’t completed their exam, I had a panic attack. When I was in 6th grade, I was called to the front of the cafeteria during an awards banquet. How I made it up to the stage has always been a mystery to me, as the only thing I remember was having the realization that my name might be called and being unable to hear anything else except my heartbeat afterward. Sexy Nerd can vouch for my anxiety. Five minutes before our wedding, Captain Howie pulled out what I thought to be a microphone (it was actually a tape recorder). Not only was I going to have to recite vows in front of everyone – I was going to have to do it loudly?? I was ready to call the whole thing off!
How could I possibly serve on jury duty? I would have to drive downtown, (no!) find the specific courthouse needed, (no!) go through security, (no!) sit in an unfamiliar room filled with (as I imagined) seedy people, (no!) and, worst of all, I may have to say something, like my name, in front of these people (no, no, no!!!) Despite being notified of my anxiety, the State of New Mexico decided that I was a fit candidate for service. I tried to warn them.
Sexy Nerd had the day off work today, and being the best husband ever, he volunteered not only to drive me to jury duty, but to sit and wait with me too. Thank goodness he drove. I would never have found it. The directions clearly stated to park in the METRO PARKING garage to avoid a parking charge. Being the cheap thrifty person I am, I would have refused to park anywhere else. What the directions failed to mention was that their recommended parking garage does not have any signs. There are dozens of parking garages downtown. How are us map-challenged people supposed to figure out which building is the Metro Parking parking garage if there is no Metro Parking sign?
On our way to the courthouse, I let Sexy Nerd in on a little secret. “I’m going to cry and have a panic attack to get out of jury duty.” I told him. “Don’t feel bad for me. It’s just an act! It’ll teach them a lesson!” Maybe I was trying to make light of the situation or convince myself that I was in control. Whatever my reasoning was, my little act was history as soon as we stepped into the courthouse, and the actual, uncontrollable panic set in.
To make a long story slightly shorter (don’t you love when you write and write and lose steam just as you’re getting to the good part?) I went from having watery eyes while signing in, to a runny nose while standing in line, to full-on tears with gasps for breath once seated inside the courtroom. The woman to my right gave me a tissue, then remarked “Oh dear!” and returned to her purse to get me an entire stack of tissues. The woman on my left rubbed my back and commented on what a poor thing I was and how I shouldn’t have to be there. All this while the judge was addressing the court. I knew it was silly. I didn’t want to cry. I mean, I was just sitting in a room! There was certainly no reason to cry! No matter how much I yelled at myself to stop, I simply couldn’t.
Questions were asked and I was forced to speak in front of everyone. The judge said one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard: “If there is anyone who feels they are incapable of serving due to a feeling of discomfort, anxiety, or shyness about being on a jury, please raise your hand and explain it. You can also raise your hand, then come up front to explain it to me.” You want me to single myself out, walk to the front, (however that would be done, as we were sitting on benches and I was on the end toward the wall) and stand there speaking in front of everyone?!
I hope it goes without saying that I was not selected to serve. On the drive home from jury duty, Sexy Nerd said he was surprised I had gone at all. He thought I would find a way out of it. I’ve tried. That’s why my service has been deferred 3 times and why I received a snippy little lecture about the obligations of being a U.S. citizen this time. Sexy Nerd later admitted that he loved being at the courthouse and wished that he could be the lucky one serving. Geez, is he a weirdo or what?