How to survive jury duty as a student. Hint: You don't.

October 18, 2018 by Emily Favaloro

Jury duty: the bane of every student’s existence, and yes, I’m factoring in tests, papers, deadlines, work obligations, etc. so don’t @ me.

I recently received a jury summons in the mail, and, I can promise you, I had never had more anxiety as a student than when I got that summons. I had received a jury summons only once before, and I was an undergraduate at the time. The anxiety I experienced the first time was high, but it was because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. Now, I’m in agony because I know what happens, and the time I’m about to lose, according to my anxiety, will surely kill me.

Upon receiving this new summons, I had flashbacks to sitting in a room that was never silent, but never quite loud enough to earn the description of noisy. The room was full of people coughing, sneezing, being grumpy, minding their own business, but the most annoying thing had to be the instructional video that seemed to be on repeat. I sat there, a book for one of my classes in hand, but it wasn’t until I read the same paragraph for the fifth time that I noticed I wasn’t able to focus enough on getting anything out of the reading but could recite parts of the video without hesitation. My mind only wanted to focus on the door to my right where a woman would appear and tell me, and the rest of the heard, whether or not we would have to move to the next stage. I changed my approach and tried to write, but the guy next to me was wearing his headphones and had his music turned up so loud that I was focusing more on if I knew the lyrics rather than what kind of argument I could make about an author’s problematic characterization of their minority characters. The situation in front of me was the only thing I could focus on, and that was the worst of it. Hours went by that consisted of nothing but agonizing over whether or not an attorney was going to pick me, and that outweighed any sort attention I thought I could give to my work. I was wasting my time, but there is just something inherently worrying about sitting in a courthouse, no matter what side of the justice system you’re on.

Luckily for me, I was going out of town later that week, so I was excused from the process, but this time I have nothing to rely on but my status as a full-time graduate student. Now, some of you may be thinking “but Emily, it’s our Civic Duty!” and you are correct, it sure is, but try telling that to my anxiety, who has already started counting the hours of work I’ll miss, the information I won’t be privy too, the assignments I will fall behind on, and the increasing lack of sleep I’ll soon be experiencing trying to make up for the amount of time I’ll lose sitting in a room full of miserable people who all have, in their opinion, “better things” to be doing.

I guess I only have two options: pray to whatever deity is responsible for letting people out jury duty and offer up my first born in exchange for safety, or, spend money I don’t have on a trip back home to New Orleans…

Who wants to drive me to the airport?