Friday, November 13, 2009

How Rhonda Byrnes Got Me Out of Jury Duty

It seems like the stars are against me as I attempt to adhere to a jury summons. Besides the fact that I am feeling ill, with a nagging itch in my throat and a slight fever, I am also running late because I cannot find my house key. Add to this not-funny-moment a joking spouse.

It turns out that my keys are in my husband's coat pocket, and he is currently in his car driving somewhere in Brooklyn, a good hour away from home.

"And you have to stop at the gas station to put air in the left front tire," he adds.

"Are you trying to get me jailed for not showing up for a jury summons?" I ask, holding the cell phone on speaker with one hand and stuffing a full box of tissues into my handbag with the other.

There's a pause, and then he answers, laughing, "Well, Yes."

This is how desperate he is to get rid of me when I am sick and grumpy. I snap the phone shut head to Court street.

Somehow I get to the court house on time. The jury waiting room is packed. A propaganda film starring Diane Sawyer is playing on a wall-mounted television.

"The early settlers had a barbaric, primitive justice system. Accused suspects were bound at the hands and ankles with thick rope, then thrown into the lake. It was believed that if the person sank, he was guilty."

The camera pans toward toothless peasants hurling a man into the water and grinning. I sit expressionless, silently struggling to keep my mucus in check with Halls cough drops. Thanks to the ever-present Swine Flu threat, my coughing fits clear a whole row of seats.

"Well, if it worked for them, why change it?" I mumble, in an effort to sound outlandish and unfit to serve.

My small protest goes nowhere, prompting quiet thumbs up from some people around me, rather than getting me excused. I turn on my iPod and tune out Diane Sawyer. Today I'm listening to the audio book The Secret, by Rhonda Byrnes. I know I'm probably the last person on the planet to read this bestseller from 2006, but I've been saving this magical little audio book for a day just like this.

It turns out that The Secret is very motivational. Today, with Byrnes' help I plan to harness my energy and bend the universe! I will start with getting out of this jury selection room, I think.

Byrnes says the secret to success is strongly linked to the law of attraction. The energy you send out into the universe is returned to you, and by having an awareness of the power of thought, you can control your future.

"What ever you choose to think will become your life experience," she writes.

The author suggests I start with a small undertaking. So I decide to try to move something in the room. The man seated in front of me has unusual hair, thick on the top, and thin on the sides. I imagine it is a hairpiece and closing my eyes, I try to levitate it. I visualize his hair lifting off his head for about five minutes. Nothing happens. I start to laugh which subsequently triggers a sneezing fit. Through the power of germs, I cause the very nice man to turn and offer me a tissue.

Feeling guilty, I abandon my attempt to mentally move his hairpiece and look for other ways to pass the time in this federal meditation room. My stomach is starting to growl vowel sounds, so I get up and ask a court employee at the front of the room if I can leave to get a bite to eat.

"Not right now. Just wait a few minutes please," she says.

I could swear this moment is a case of deja vu. This same scene happened to me in 1991 in a high school study hall. I sit down and devise an escape plan. I think:

The next time last names are called, I will visualize my own disappearance. I will wish myself home like Dorothy in the movie The Wizard of Oz, or Samantha in the television show Bewitched. If that works, I'll clean every room in my house by twitching my nose (since I'll be on a role at that point).

Ten minutes later the roll call begins. People are grumbling. Lunch break is twenty minutes late and they're calling a new panel of prospective jurors. I close my eyes tightly and smile. I'm thinking positive thoughts...I'm sitting at my kitchen table drinking William Sonoma brand hot chocolate with the big square marshmallows -I don't skimp in my dreams! The role call ends and the disgruntled group files out of the room. A lawyer closes the door behind them.

My next thought is:

"Maybe we're all going to die now. Oops! I have to retract that thought from the universe, quick!" I clamp my eyes shut again and imagine myself pulling the thought up out of the ocean in a giant net.

Then I hear: "I have good news for all of you here. All the juries are selected for today. You all are excused for another six years."

People around me cheer. I open one eye slowly, then the other.

"Oh wow! The Secret works! It really works!" I shout. Bet they won't call me again ever.


Putz said...

this is an especially good piece of writing, of course you knew that all along anyway, didn't you???? the reason it is so good because the topic you picked to write about is perfect and interesting to all peoples.....i couldn't have jury duty just one week ago because, i had no access to a car and my doctor didn't want me driving more than 30 miles per hour{ right on my driver's license that he sent to the dmbv hiself}

caitysparkles said...

Haha, this entry is awesome! Loren, I love the way you write. I am always enthralled by it and wishing your entries go on and on. I just had to say that.

The next time I find myself in a similar situation, I'm going to try this. :)

Loren Christie said...

Mr. Putz, You'd make a cool juror if you could manage it! I was so frustrated with the system. It's not that I don't want to serve, I actually think being a juror is interesting. I didn't want to be picked for a trial because I have no day time babysitter, and it is really hard for me to get there. I've already postponed as much as I can, and had to show up for the summons.
Thank you Caity. That's probably what being married to me is like: (one of my blog posts never ending). Poor Milk Man.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I never had to actually go in in person. I always write a persuasive letter that says I can't do it because I have small children and no babysitter, and they have never said it wasn't acceptable. But your experience made for a good blog post!

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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