Jury Duty vs. Grandma Duty

Stern judge

You are hereby ordered to report for jury duty on October 23, 2009, read the official summons for Jury Duty.

The letter arrived about a month ago, and I promptly wrote the date on my calendar. I also made a note to call after 6pm on the night before for pre-reporting instructions. I had no other commitments for that date and was looking forward to the possibility of serving on a jury.

But, unfortunately, the jury summons got relegated to the back burner when I accepted several irresistible invitations.

First, I was invited to participate in a grandparents focus group on the evening I was supposed to call in for pre-reporting instructions. No problem, I would call right before I left for the group or when I returned home.

Second, my daughter called to say she and her husband and my granddaughters would be driving back from Monterey and could they stay overnight at our house — also the night of the focus group and night I was supposed to call in for pre-reporting instructions. Of course they could stay, I said. After her call, I realized I’d only be able to have a short visit with them before I went off to my focus group. I underlined the note on my calendar to remind me to call about jury duty. Then it hit me: if I had to serve on jury duty, I wouldn’t be able to play with my granddaughters on Friday morning. I thought about requesting a continuance, but decided to take my chances — maybe I wouldn’t get summoned.

Third, I was scheduled to participate in a Toastmasters division evaluation contest the same evening as jury duty. The little box on my calendar was getting very crowded.

My kids and grandkids arrived late Thursday afternoon and, as usual, it was as if a hurricane had touched down. Toys, clothes and suitcases were strewn everywhere. But I was prepared. I’d made soup that afternoon, set the table, and was all ready to just play with them until we sat down for dinner. Things got more frenetic when a friend stopped by to see the girls. When we finally sat down to dinner, I only had thirty minutes to gulp down my soup before I had to dash off to my focus group.

When I returned home after 10 pm, everyone  was asleep. The next morning my granddaughters woke me at 7 am to play with them. I got them all to myself, while my daughter and son-in-law took some time for themselves. The girls and I had a breakfast picnic on the floor, and then we walked up the street to visit one of my neighbor’s gardens. Their parents returned at noon, packed their suitcases and left.

After restoring my house to its former self, I crashed on the bed for some rest. Then I did some preparation for the Toastmaster’s contest. A few hours later I sat listening to one of the contestants talking about getting his car towed away.

Oh, %$#@!!! — I suddenly realized I’d been so engrossed in playing with my granddaughters, I never called to find out whether I was supposed to show up for jury duty that morning! I panicked. For a few minutes I had no idea what the speaker was saying. All I could think about was: what is the penalty for failing to appear for jury duty?

As soon as I got home that night, I called the phone number on the summons letter. At 11 pm on Friday no information was available for that day, nor would a live person be available until Monday morning. I began to formulate my excuse:

Your honor, do you have any grandchildren? Well I DO, and I got so wrapped up with them I completely forgot about jury duty! I pride myself on being a punctual, responsible person who always follows through on commitments. But since I became a grandma … well, things have changed. When I’m with my granddaughters, everything else fades into the background — even my civic responsibility!

At 9 am this morning I called the county office with trepidation. I considered not calling, on the chance that my number had not been called, but I eventually realized that honesty would be better. When the clerk answered the phone, I meekly confessed that I had forgotten to call on Friday to see if I was supposed to serve. The clerk asked for my juror group number. I held my breath. She said, “Your group wasn’t called and you’ve been excused.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and realized my grandma friends would not have to visit me in jail! I also realized I’m going to have to come up with a much better system for reminding myself of important responsibilities.


  1. says

    Oh, boy, did your post ring true. Two weeks ago I had all the kids and grandkids over for a grandchild’s birthday. It was also my evening to prepare food for my dad, who lives about half an hour away. The family came over in the afternoon. We had a late lunch and birthday cake. Three of the grandkids decided to spend the night. At around eight p.m., as I was making grilled cheese sandwiches for the grandkids, I realized I had forgotten to take food to my poor dad! It’s much worse to forget your father than it is to forget jury duty, although it’s not illegal!