The dreaded slip came in the mail two months ago. I looked at it, sighed and said, “oh fuck” out loud. Jury Duty. You know that feeling right? Nobody wants to go. Admit it. My issue was the date they requested was the date I was leaving for Napa. I quickly sent the form back asking for a postponement. Little did I know I would receive a letter back literally five days later requesting I must come in November 13 at 8:15am with letter in hand. Three weeks passed and jury duty was upon me. Greg announces he will be in Miami when I am jury duty bound which leaves me trying to figure out how to get the kids to and from school, deal with the dog and serve my time. It sort of left my mind until the night before I have to drive to Newark searching the internet for some kind of miracle I did not have to show . I knew I could have gotten out of it but the truth is I knew if I served I wouldn’t have to go back for three years and I just wanted to get it over with. Also to all the people out there who are thinking I should be so lucky to have this right, our people fought hard for a democratic life, blah blah. I will say that I am GENUINELY thankful for our nations judicial system. However, as a parent it is very hard to balance your life and find time to sit in Newark all day when you work, raise kids and have a husband who travels a lot. Fair enough?
I have a 7 month old puppy that I could not leave for eight hours by himself in a crate he tears apart seconds after I leave. I came up with a plan that I would take Griff to Pups at Play at 7am when they open. I would wake Zach before I left, have him wake Parker and I would be back to make them breakfast, drop them off at school and be in Newark at 8:15am.
This is how the morning really went.
I woke up at 6:20am. Walked the dog as fast as I could, shower, threw on clothes. The letter stated I had to “dress in a manner that shows respect for these important proceedings.” Ew. Like business casual? I ran downstairs to find Griffin eating Zach’s nerf football he left on the couch. Great.
I fed him and walked him again. As I was walking the dog I realize I stepped in shit. I guess when I walked him the night before (Greg usually does this job but again he was in Miami) I didn’t scoop it all up (#worstjobever). Now my fucking Chanel flats had shit all over them. WTF. I have no time to wash them so I threw them in the garage, put on new shoes, woke Zach, threw the dog in the car and sped to Pups. As I was speeding to pups there were three turkey’s walking across the road, I kid you not, taking their sweet old-time. I started honking so they would speed up but instead the noise stopped them dead in their tracks. At that point I started to panic. Full sweat.
FINALLY they reached the other side of the road and I arrived at Pups. 7:05am.
I drove back home to find Parker in the kitchen placing his snack in his snack bag (I am floored…the seven year old is leaps and bounds more responsible than the 10-year-old) and Zach, the 10-year-old was watching ESPN on his Ipad in his room half-dressed. REALLY? I scream at Zach to hurry up because if I am late they are going to make me serve jury duty forever. He looks at me with those eyes (he is way too smart for me) and says “it is illegal for them to keep you there forever.” I have no clue if he knows anything about the law but apparently he knows they can’t hold me captive.
I don’t even know why I ask. If I was a normal parent I would just say “Boys, we are having eggs and toast this morning.” Instead I asked them what they wanted. Bad idea.
Parker said, “Mom, I want sausage, eggs and toast with butter and jelly.” I looked at him not knowing whether to start hysterical laughing or hysterical crying and explain he cannot have a Saturday morning breakfast on the jury duty day. He can have cereal or microwaveable waffles or pancakes.
“But mom I really want sausage”. What I wanted to say and what I actually said were two different things. There was not a shot I was making sausage.
And then to top it off Zach asked for an egg sandwich. Which means me making eggs with cheese, toasting bread, placing the two together, cutting it and adding ketchup. In what world was this happening?
Please know I had a full discussion with them the night before about breakfast. I explained that I was in a major time crunch and I had to be in Newark at the crack so the idea of mom’s amazing breakfast was out of the question. Somehow they forgot. I promised them I would make them breakfast for dinner and we need to move along.
As we were leaving I realized that I needed to have some kind of food to bring with me. I had no clue if there was a lunch place as all I could really imagine was a McDonald’s or Burger King. I grabbed an apple, a bar and my shake and flew out the door.
I felt bad I had to drop off the kids at school at 7:30am (school starts at 8:05) but I had no choice. 280 (the highway) is a nightmare in the morning and I wasn’t risking it. I pulled out of school and noticed I had 10 miles left before I ran out of gas. SHIT. Few things make me anxious and driving around on empty is one of them. It is 7:42am as I pull into the Shell Station. I give the attendant my credit card and look down. OH MY FUCKING GD. I FORGOT MY LAPTOP. How does a writer who has to spend 7 hours serving jury duty forget their laptop?? It is 7:48am when he finished and there was no time for me to run home to get my computer. I wanted to cry but I put on Howard and moved on.
I turned onto Northfield with a full tank and headed towards 280. If you know me personally you know that I think Livingston has the worst drivers in the world next to Boca. THE WORST. Like driving in two lanes at the same time kind of drivers. So I was driving and wouldn’t you know a fucking HAT gets in front of me. (See my article about the HAT if you have no idea what I am talking about). I couldn’t move into the left lane because there was a bus that was also driving two miles an hour. FML. I started sweating again.
I FINALLY got onto 280 and this is what it looked like. I had the pleasure of shooting this picture because I was at a full stand still. It was now 7:59am.
At this point I was in a dead panic. All I could think about was what will happen if I show up late. Will they tell me I have to come back at another date and do this all over again? Will they have let all the early people go and make the late people stay? I don’t know but I was driving cursing Greg and Newark for making me a bat shit crazy mom at 7:50am. The traffic is torture and my hair was now grey. The one thing I had going for me was that everyone was going to the city and bearing right whereas Newark is in the left lane. Nobody was going to Newark. Just me and the blinged out, tinted Mercedes next to me.
I got off 280 and had no idea where the fuck I was going. I might as well have been in Compton. No clue. But I was following nav and it was taking me in a circle. It was 8:10am, I needed a Xanax STAT. And then I saw this little sign that said “Juror Parking.” It was like the feeling I had when the doctor’s assistant called me back to tell me I wasn’t dying. I just had some weird infection. I WAS SO RELIEVED. I MADE IT. I pulled into this huge parking lot, grabbed a ticket and looked at my phone. I screen shot it. I couldn’t believe it.
How’s that for timing? If you want Part 2. Like the article here or on Facebook and I will write about A Day in the Life of a Juror in Newark. If you could give two shits about it, hopefully we can meet up again.