The Guilty Party

Wednesday, October 1, 2008



Last week I spent my day off at the courthouse. Me and a whole lot of other folks had been called to Jury Duty. I won't keep you in suspense: No, I didn't get picked for a jury. After lunch, after I had already been there for about four and a half hours, I was called along with thirty-nine other people to form a panel from which an eventual jury of a dozen (I think it was a dozen) was selected. Those of us not chosen were given the word at 4:30 in the afternoon, which timed it just right for all of us to take full advantage of peak rush hour traffic out of downtown Phoenix. I left with mixed feelings about not having been chosen. It just might have been interesting.

At the very least, I had been hoping that the jury duty experience would give me some material for my little online journal here. I took notes both while waiting to be impaneled (is that a word?) and even during the question and answer session with the judge and lawyers but nothing seems to beg expanding upon or even exaggerating for effect.

Be that as it may, while I was waiting my turn to be called (mine was the fifth group of the day) there was video entertainment. At first it consisted of a short film that began by enumerating the satisfaction to the individual and the benefits to society to be gotten out of showing up for jury duty and ended with a rather lengthy list of instructions on how to behave ourselves. This was interrupted at intervals by a woman many of us could not see giving us even more instructions over an intercom system. Much of what she had to say had to do with location of restrooms and emergency exits and consisted exclusively of phrases along the lines of "over there" and "to the right" and might have been worth paying closer attention to if the room hadn't been configured in such a way as to make it impossible for a large percentage of us to see her. "Over there" is an abstract concept under such circumstances.


When the Citizens' Duty video was over they showed the wonderful Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams", which I have seen many times and enjoyed every time. There are so many things about that film that resonate or just delight: the idea of risking it all on faith; the understanding and support Costner's character receives from his immediate family, the ones with the most to lose; James Earl Jones' performance; the first time the Chicago Black Sox team goes back into the corn field; the soundtrack music; the line of cars approaching the ballpark at the end of the movie.

But this time it was a line from Shoeless Joe Jackson talking about his love affair with baseball. I may have a word or two off, but this is the essence of it.

I would have done it for food money.

It got me thinking. What is it in this world that is so much a part of who I am that I would do it even if I knew there was little or no prospect of it ever delivering anything above a basic lifestyle? Life complicates that question when there are other people in ones life. But the question is still there and honestly it is a tough one. I suppose it can only be answered if one has had at least reached the food money level by doing what one loves. Only then can the question be answered "Is it enough?"

So I put it to you, Dear Reader. Is there something that is so much a part of you that you would do it for food money and be happy?



Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise


P.S. The Wobbly Sketch is of the al fresco dining area at The Change of Venue dining establishment at the courthouse. I had a buffalo chicken wrap for lunch. I cannot recommend it.



2 comments:

Cat said...

Good question. I have two choices, riding horses and writing. I never made any money on either, and gladly have put out the cash to participate in both. Now if I can figure out how the get paid while writing on horseback I'd have it made. Cat

Timberati said...

They showed you a movie? The jury folks in my county didn't show a movie. Did you get popcorn too?

The contortions people go through to get excused are worth the price of admission. So too are the rationalizations of people who are being picked "no I wouldn't be prejudiced against him."

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.