Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bad Shabbos

Thursday and Friday I had jury duty. Thursday I was dismissed at 12:30 p.m., to Iceman's great relief -- I was able to facilitate my anger management group. But Friday morning, I was sent to a sweltering small room in civil court to endure a slow and excruciating voir dire. The overly affable, shmoozy plaintiff's attorney was taking forever to ask us whether we could be objective if selected to try the case, a personal injury lawsuit involving elevators.

All of the attorneys had Jewish names -- the PI guy, the building owners' attorney, and the elevator repair company's attorney. But the PI guy went first, and he shmoozed like he was at a cocktail party. "You went to Dalton? Were you on the chess team? Did you have a good lunch?"

I got antsier and antsier, since Shabbat was creeping closer and closer. On our lunch break I went to the room where you go to settle issues like this and was told there was nothing they could do, it would have to be settled courtside and it was my fault for reporting for jury duty on a Thursday, when I knew the next day was Friday and I'd have to leave early. I didn't know you could postpone after two postponements, but apparently that would have been a smarter move.

ARGH! When I got back to the stifling room, as soon as the shmoozer called my name and before he could ask how I and my lunch were (lunch was good; I had pizza and a salad, but he really doesn't need to know that, nor do the other jurors), I said, "I need to talk to you in the hallway." You go talk in the hallway if you think you might say something that would adversely affect anyone else's decision to serve on the case.

I quickly explained that I had been injured in a store, tried to get compensation, and was very dissatisfied with the whole process. Hated my lawyer, hated their lawyers, didn't get much money, still had pain every day. Also, I was anxious about getting home before Shabbos and this was taking forever.

The 3 attorneys exchanged a quick glance. I'm sure they thought I was unstable. At that point, I kinda was. I'd been trying to use the tools I try to teach in anger management group. Unsuccessfully. So I'd been stewing in the hot room, getting madder and madder as the attorney shmoozed all the other candidates. "You're from Pittsburgh? My father was from Pittsburgh. It's a real nice city. What made you leave it?" WHO CARES?

Well, apparently the lawyers do -- this is their chance to get to know the jury and how best to manipulate them. Or so a friend of mine, whom I ran into on the subway, explained. Which makes sense. I don't know if that would have helped me during jury selection. At least they could have called maintenance to lower the damn heat!

So the lawyers escorted me to the woman in charge of the jury pool. One even wished me "Shabbat shalom." Yeah, I'm a total kiddush Hashem. Another said mischievously, "I know you didn't like those lawyers in your case, but if you'd served on this case you'd have liked us!"

"No, I wouldn't have!" I snapped. "I can't stand that fake friendly shmooziness. It's driving me and all the other jurors crazy!"

They shut up then, and let the jury pool supervisor process me. Free to go, for six years. But I was so exhausted and frazzled from tamping down hours of rage that when I got home, instead of showering off the jury room sweat, I lay down and fell asleep. Missed the Shabbos dinner and lecture and oneg I was supposed to attend. And today I woke up and didn't feel like going to shul or even visiting anyone.

Using the light box is completely hit or miss. If I stop using it, I sleep better and my mood crashes. If I use it, I don't get enough sleep and I'm tired all the time. And my psychiatrist won't give me a sleep aid like Rozerem -- he hasn't had too much success with it -- or Lunesta. I asked. He refused.

As a result, each day I have to decide whether using the light box is a good idea. How I felt the day before -- do I need a boost or can I make it through and use the box tomorrow? And I don't always make the right decision. Clearly.

I'm not in control -- I'm too quick to anger. Always have been, and even more so when I'm slightly depressed, or manic, or in a mixed state. I felt like a hypocrite trying to use my anger management techniques and not really managing anything. Well -- I had considered yelling out "Get to the point!" a few times, and hadn't. I suppose that's something.

Another juror and I condoled in the elevator. "He is just wasting our fucking time!" she fumed. "Excuse my language."

"No apologies necessary," I said. "I wanted to throw my boot at him." She laughed -- probably thought it was a complete exaggeration. I wish it were.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Hey I did jury duty and found the process annoying too. So sounds to me like you assessed the situation appropriately. And you got excused for six years!
    Hang in there, the days are getting longer.

  2. It was annoying, but I'm more concerned about my response to it. I got so angry that by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Part of that is the pressure I feel from Iceman NOT to be empaneled -- definitely made me a lot more antsy. But I got so MAD about the heat and the boredom and the fakity-fake shmoozing of the P.I. attorney. And I'm supposed to TEACH anger management!

  3. Don't be so hard on yourself.