Monday, June 13, 2005

Jury Duty And More!

There's something kind of nice about getting back from vacation with the whole weekend ahead of you. Vacations are great, but they're exhausting and it's nice to have a couple days to settle back into the old routine before having to hit the office again.

This time, I had an extra day out from work, though. Jury duty.

I had tried to get my date changed from June 6th, which was when I was inconveniently far from Houston, but the lady on the phone copped an attitude with me and insisted that it was the Monday of my return or nothing. Geez, lady, check your records-- I've served before, I'm not some lying deadbeat trying to weasel out of this, I just want something reasonable. Asking me to do jury duty after being gone from the office for two weeks is a recipe for a hostile, grumpy juror. But whatever, she's probably heard everything, so today was the day.

Since I really didn't want to be picked this time, I decided to forego my usual professional attire, and dressed a bit sloppily. This was hard to do for me, because the remnants of my teenage vanity got in the way, but I managed to put together an outfit that, combined with an unattractive hair arrangement and no makeup, managed to make me look (and feel!) dowdy, ugly and hostile. I made sure to take a slightly radical Chicano book with me, one that has a sombrero-clad guy holding a gun on the cover. I would've preferred Dan's copy of Naked Lunch as a you-don't-want-me-in-your-jury-box tome, but I couldn't find it. Oh well. I think next time I see the LaRouche-ites passing out literature on campus I'll get me an armfull for future emergencies like this.

I had Dan drop me off downtown, since Parking is $8 at a minimum, and they only pay $5.50/day for jurors. Thanks, guys. I went through the whole cattle-like rigamarole in what was literally a standing-room only juror selection area. We filled the room, we filled the halls, we filled the breakroom... it was obvious some of us would get sent home. When my number was selected, I trudged off with the other cattle to sit some more on the floor outside the court, since there weren't enough benches for us all. Criminal court. Hm. Not bad. Maybe it'll involve a Hispanic and the opposing lawyer will see my book and reject me. Too bad I can't turn my Spanish accent on and off at will. Maybe if I read the juror instructions in Spanish, it will get me in the right accent.

Luck was with me today though, and the trial my group was selected for got postponed. No one else needed our panel, so they sent us away. Hooray!

So no one thinks I'm a regular grump about these things, I'm simply inundated with work right now that's been backing up. Normally I like jury duty because it's a nice excuse to do something different, hang out downtown for a few days and such. In fact, I've been wondering lately if there shouldn't be a way to volunteer for jury duty and be able to avoid getting called up for it at inconvenient times. I would've loved to have gone in February or April, for example, when I didn't have a lot going on. Wouldn't a volunteer option be nicer for everyone? Between jobs? Go get your jury service out of the way! Bored at the office? Go see if they need you on a panel! Of course most people would still have to be drafted, so to speak, but it sure would be nice if we could have the option of choosing. Getting to postpone your date by a couple of weeks isn't exactly choosing, because it assumes that you have busy days or weeks, as opposed to busy periods of the year.

Anyway, it was eleven o'clock when I got dismissed, and with no car handy, it didn't make much sense to try to make it to work. The buses back to where I live (only 3 miles away, of all things) were several blocks away and run at 40-60 minute intervals, depending on whether I take the #18 or the #70. They take 20 minutes at a minimum to get me near where I live, then I would've had to still walk the rest of the way home, change clothes, eat a bit of lunch, drive to the office, etc, etc. So going to work didn't make much sense at this point. Anything that needed to be done could be done online in the evening or the next morning.

I had brought my gym bag with me, just in case I got dismissed early, so I headed off cheerfully to the downtown Y for my first swim of the season. Yes, first. I'm part cat, I think. I really hate water unless it's to drink.

The pool was busy with lunchtime swimmers, but I found a slow-moving guy in a lane by himself who looked like he wasn't terribly serious. Luckily he wasn't, and within minutes of my arrival, he left. Yay! I got in and immediately remembered why I hate the pool. It's wet and cold. Why do people do this on purpose?

Okay, buck up camper. Get wet, try not to shiver like the wimp you are and get swimming!

For the first five laps I had the lane all to myself. Once I was moving, it was fun to be back in the water. I was slow, but that was okay. Can't expect speed if I'm not training. Pull, breathe, small kick, not too much, this is triathlon swimming, after all.

Then after about five or six laps, I got company.

I knew she was trouble when she asked me and the guy in the lane next to me how deep the deep end was. Uh, I'm not sure, but it's deeper than me and deeper than you. Does it matter?

Apparently it did, because she only swam out about halfway, then turned around and came back.



What kind of damn fool goes to the pool at a busy time of day when everyone is sharing lanes, and then insists on breaststroking? And it's not like she was good enough for us to circle-swim, she had to do her slow little out-and-backs in the shallow end, forcing me to pause at the far end on each lap and wait for her to get near the wall before starting my return lap.

Grrrrr.... Having learned to swim as a thirtysomething, I'm hugely sympathetic to being new to swimming, and if anything, I'm supportive and enthusiastic about people's efforts. But there's a time and place for everything, and the busiest time of day at the Downtown Y's four-lane pool is not the time or place for someone to be learning how to swim!

Luckily by the time I hit lap 12, Newbie had had enough and left. I hope she comes back, but at a much less busy time when she can have a lane to herself and the full attention of a lifeguard.

Almost immediately I got a new lane-mate, a guy who had the body for his Speedo, but nevertheless looked just wrong in it, if you know what I mean. Having the body for a fashion doesn't always make it right. He started circle-swimming, which irked me at first because even my "sprint" sessions are slower than a slow boat to China. But once I realized that his warmup was also his top speed, I settled in happily and finished off my 20 laps.

Then I had a nice little session in the hot tub, nice and hot with very strong jets to work the mountain-climbing stiffness out of my legs. Then a cool shower, shorts, tank top and running shoes, and I was ready to face Houston's great outdoors again.

I didn't even botther looking for the bus stop. I ran the numbers quickly in my head and realized it would take just as long to walk as to take the bus, so I bought a 20 oz bottle of water and struck out for home.

I got in damp and sweaty from the humidity, took a shower, made some no-bake peanut butter cookies and had some lunch. I did a little office work online, thanked my personal jury deities for sparing me duty this week, and took a nap.

Tomorrow it's back to the salt mines.

Is it good to be home? Well, if home were elsewhere, I think I'd have a more ready answer to that. Dan and I are seriously considering moving to New Mexico after this trip. I want to get my ten years at the university, so that means not leaving before January, and we're in a lease until May, so we've got plenty of time to work on the matter. We'll need it. Jobs at my level take a long time to get. But I think we're serious this time about leaving. And since I have too much to say about this matter tonight, I think I'll save future musings for another blog post.

If home is where the critters are and where you always know where to find stuff, yes, it's great to be home!

Recent Workouts
Saturday: Run, 14 miles
Sunday: Bike, 2 hours - Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 1000 meter swim, 3 mile walk, 30 minutes elliptical


Flatman said...

What a great post. Glad you had fun on vacation and you didn't get picked for jury duty!

Wil said...

Wooo! Way to dodge the bullet! Relax and ease back in, and most of all, WELCOME BACK!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Jurors in TX only get $5.50 a day? That's insane! It's $40 a day in NYC!