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Jury Duty!

by Julia Bendis

May 23, 2011 | 3:17 pm

As much as I love to participate in any and all civic duties, being chosen for Jury Duty just wasn’t going to happen.  Believe it or not, this was the first time I had ever received a notification requiring me to fulfill my civil duty.  As I opened the letter, immediately I started to search for that little box to check that says “No Thanks”.  Realizing they forgot to include that box on the form, I decided to give it the good old human-to-human conversation via the telephone.  I was convinced that once Central Justice Center heard about my dilemma, they would undoubtedly dismiss me from having to serve on a jury.  After all, it would be a hell of a long day for two kids to sit through, what with all the proceedings, hearings and depositions.  I assumed that the Courthouse was equipped with a side-room for children to hang out in while the Mothers participated in Jury Duty, however having one child that routinely lectures others about proper hand-washing techniques after using the restroom, and the other routinely pounding various children’s heads into walls, I thought it might not be wise to put them in there.

As I sat on hold for what seemed like an eternity, I saw that there was a tiny box you could check off that read “Excuse with a Reason”.  I quickly hung up, checked off the box, made a small note on the bottom of the form saying: “I have two underage children that I have to watch every day”, and put it in the mail.  Feeling good having dodged that bullet, I quickly forgot all about it.  Fast forward a couple weeks later, Central Justice Center had the audacity to send me another letter, this one asking whose children it is I am watching and why I can’t participate in Jury Duty…  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to respond.

This is what I wrote back, with some of the information left out only for this post:

Dear Central Justice Center:

This letter is to inform you that I gave birth to a son named Tyler eleven years ago, this is his birth date, social security number, height and weight at birth, born at this hospital, weighing in today at 85 lbs.  Also, almost six years ago, I gave birth to a second son named Nikolas, this is his birth date, social security number, height and weight at birth, born at this hospital, weighing in today at 45 lbs.  Attached, please find copies of their birth certificates along with an official Doctor’s note acknowledging the fact that they have ruined my body forever.  If you’d like to see my c-section scars along with photos of me on the operating tables, feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your time.  Please, stop wasting paper.  Go Green!

Sincerely,

Julia Bendis

Now at this point you would think all the information provided would be more than sufficient, especially the graphic and un-touched photos of my children’s Bris a.k.a circumcision.  Apparently not, since a week later I had received yet another letter asking for specific hours during which I actually do some work.  Obviously, its not enough for a woman to JUST be a full-time stay at home Mom, she has to have an actual job in order to be excused from her civil duty.  At that point I knew I had to elevate this to the next level.  Below is my final letter to the Court House.  Stay tuned for their response!

Dear Central Justice Center, Again:

Upon receiving your second letter questioning my ability as a working Mother, below please find my full daily schedule starting at 6:30 a.m.  Bear in mind that there are days when the schedule varies slightly, in which case you can insert one to two hours of chauffeuring my kids to guitar, tennis, gymnastics and as of last month Hebrew lessons.  I know I wasn’t too thrilled about the last one either, but having grown up in Communist Soviet Union, I vowed to give my kids the kind of religious upbringing I never got.

6:30 am - Jump out of bed to the sound on Mexican radio, simply because I am too lazy to change the station and having grown pretty fond of the music.

6:45 am - Shower, get dressed and ready.

7:00 am - Run half-dressed into my kids’ rooms to make sure they are getting dressed in the hopes that today is the day they have already brushed their teeth and washed their faces on their own; all the while they lecture me how inappropriate it is for me to be pulling up my pants while standing in their room.

7:10 am - Start breakfast, while giving out orders to my half-dressed children.

7:45 am - Finish breakfast, last minute lunches, get the kids ready for school.

8:00 - Load up the car for the drive to school.

8:30 am - Come back from drop-offs, to a house completely disheveled, and spend the next hour making beds, picking up toys and laundry.  Oh and on occasion, I am lucky enough to find a half eaten pear in the toilet which takes another half hour off my schedule.

9:30 to 10 am - As I finally sit down to start writing, I will typically notice yet another uneaten piece of food stuffed into the couch cushion, or a half-dead lizard out of the corner of my eye that has been living under the couch for the last week.  The process of trying to capture a slimy, squirmy rodent while screaming and jumping on kitchen counters usually takes another half hour.

10 to noon - I write non-stop.

12 noon - The phone rings.  It’s my husband reminding me to eat lunch.  I eat lunch.

12:30 pm - I go back to writing.

2:30 pm - Freedom is over, driving to school to pick up my kids.

3:30 pm - Make snacks for kids, start homework, ask the kids to take the dog for a walk, for the third time.

4:00 pm - Take the dog for a walk.

4:30 pm - Finish up homework, answer calls and e-mails.

5:00 pm - Start making dinner while bribing my kids to stop playing the Wii and go play outside.

5:30 pm - My kids call me bluff on the money I keep promising, I start passing out dollar bills.

6:00 pm- Sit down for dinner.

As you can see from my daily schedule Jury Duty doesn’t quite fit in, however I would be more than happy to bring my children along with me.  Unfortunately, after June 16th my kids will be on summer break meaning I have no choice but to bring them with me.  This is where it gets a bit tricky since I can not guarantee that they will leave the Court House the same way they found it…  My six-year-old has a terrible habit of destroying public property, he simply sees it as one of his rights as a minor.  I have tried to reason with him, but you know how difficult minors can be.  He just tells me to take it out of his piggy bank.

Well, I don’t want to take much more of your time,  I know how valuable government workers’ time is, especially when you’ve only taken an hour for lunch instead of your usual two.  I assume this will be more than sufficient information, so we can close my file.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Julia Bendis

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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I was born in Ukraine, in the former USSR, and grew up in Riga, Latvia which is on the Baltic Sea.  My family and I immigrated to the United States in 1989, right before the...

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