Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jury Duty, and no, not the Pauly Shore Movie

Ah, Pauly Shore. His mom owned a comedy club, and he got famous. He dated a porn star, and got upset because he couldn't stay famous. I think there's a tragic story there.

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to post in the last couple of days, and here I am posting that I won't be posting (most likely) for the next little while. I am, for lack of better words, going to jury duty.

Jury duty fascinates many of the people I talk to about it. Beyond, you know, the fact that anything that dribbles out of my mouth is fascinating. People are mystified about jury duty (both the thing and the movie). Where are going? How long will it last? What's the trial? How much do you get paid?

Well... I'll tell you. I'm going to some building downtown - I have the letter here somewhere. They say it'll take at least a week, if not more. They don't say what the trial is. And no, you don't get paid.

And here's the kicker - according to the sparse FAQ the government sends out along with the actual summons, you can't get out of it. If you can prove severe financial hardship, you can delay it. Being a freelance writer, I don't work I don't pay rent. I don't have any vacation pay or sick days or anything like that. And the other side of the coin is that any time I don't hustle setting up work for the future, there's less chance of work coming in. I'm off for a week, I might not get work in again for another two or three weeks.

Our whole system of government is not set up well when it comes to creative entrepreneurs. Our accountant handles creative types, and he describes a sitchuashion where this guy, we'll call him guy, guy works on getting his movie made for five years. For four years he makes almost nothing. On the fifth year he makes a million dollars. (I guess he's making a Tom Cruise movie, who knows). Our accountant feels that for tax purposes, this guy, guy, should be allowed to spread his earnings over the last five tax years, paying out at a lower overall tax bracket.

You know, it sounds a lot more exciting when he says it. I promise to limit my taw stories in the future.

I talked to another guy, but not named guy, who went through a jury duty scare. It took him a long time to convince them that he had to be on set for his TV show during that week. "Couldn't you take some time off, or have someone cover you?" They did not seem to understand that this week of being on set was something he had been working towards for months - if not (in one hyperboliptical way of looking at it) his whole life. Although, eventually he did talk his way out of it.

Maybe I'm being lazy by not fighting against my civic duty, by I'm biting the bullet (so manly!) and going in. Sure, it's causing me problems, but what's interesting is that I have no idea how this is going to go. And neither does anyone I've talked to. This is an entirely uncharted area.

Oh, as I spend a lot of time telling you what everyone always says to me about things, here's what people always say to me about jury duty; tell them you're racist. I know they're joking, that's the common joke you say about Jury Duty - a little like the 'who's there' to a knock knock joke. If people stopped saying 'who's there' the entire culture of knock knock jokes would be extinct, making second grade a much less humourous place.

Anyway (as my mom always says) my point is that I just out and out could not sell being racists. It would come out in a mummble, while I'm blushing like mad and stuttering over the juicy bits. They wouldn't believe me. And then that would be more embarrassing than actually being a racist. Because I would be the guy who said horrible, hateful, hurt filled things just to get out of jury duty - and everyone would know it. All my fellow jurers. They'd be shuffling away from me in that wooden box off to the side.

And the twenty year reunion would suck.

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