Friday, December 08, 2006

Jury Doodie

So I got a jury duty summons that begins, conveniently, the day after my current job ends. Since I think jury duty is important, and I usually have a legitimate reason to try to get out of it, this seemed like a good thing.

Okay, problem number one: It's federal court in Brooklyn. I live in Queens, and although these two boroughs are on the same land mass, the "fastest" and "easiest" way to get where I'm going, short of buying a car, is to ride a train across the East River, into Manhattan, and back across the East River to Brooklyn. This means I'll be riding past the Queens and Manhattan courthouses along the way, at which points I may cry.

But there's good news! I'm only an alternate, and technology has advanced since the last time I had jury duty so that I only have to show up if they decide they need me. I just phone in after 5:00 on the business day before I'm called, and the lovely robot voice tells me if I'm needed. I'm off the hook for Monday.

But here's the thing: Because this is federal jury duty, I'm on call for two weeks. Two frakkin' weeks! How is someone supposed to plan a life, or, you know, a job? Unless I end up on a trial, I will never know what I'm doing the next business day until after 5 pm. This means I can't call a temp agency to try to get a gig. It means I can't make any plans at all. For two weeks! How do people do this? Even if I had a job job this seems unreasonable. "Hey boss, I might be in tomorrow, might not! Sorry, blame the feds!"

I'm all for doing my civic duty, but how many people really have jobs that pay them when they go on jury duty? There has to be a better system so that freelancers and hourly employees can do the right thing without getting screwed.