Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Good Jury Duty Mojo

I had the best jury duty day ever. For one thing, I could take the train from a station very close to my neighborhood to within a few blocks of the courthouse, which is so much less hassle than driving and trying to park. Then I got to the courthouse, sat through the "here's why you should enjoy jury duty because it's so important" video starring two local news anchors (one of whom has since been fired by that station), sat through the judge's pep talk, briefing and Dallas Mavericks pep rally, then spent a couple of hours reading before they made the announcement that those of us who hadn't yet been sent to a courtroom could go. I would probably have been in the next group called, so it was a narrow escape. This meant that I served my day of jury duty without having to deal with a lawyer, aside from the divorce attorney sitting next to me who lamented that they keep calling him for jury duty, but he's always eliminated from consideration when they see what he does (lawyers hate having lawyers on juries), so it's always just a huge waste of his time.

I hadn't taken the new rail line before, and I like it. The station's much closer than the commuter line station I used to have to use, and the light rail runs more frequently than the commuter line. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get to the station, and I overestimated the amount of time I'd need because I'd forgotten that I didn't need to buy a ticket. That eliminated the time I needed to allot for my regular argument with the ticket machine: "That's a perfectly good dollar bill. It isn't even torn or crumpled. What's the problem, does it taste bad? Why won't you take my money?"

One thing that's very cool about the transit system is that they try to make each station a reflection of its surroundings. The station near me is by the very Victorian old downtown of what used to be a small town. The station artwork involves Victorian portraits embedded in the pillars. There's a station near a rose garden with carved roses on the pillars and one in a heavily Asian part of town where the pillars look kind of like something on a pagoda. The station by a lake has these really cool mural-type things that are done so they look different as you pass them. As you approach on the train, they look like old photos of Victorian-type people in rowboats, and then as you pass they become color photos of sculling on the lake.

One bad thing is that the system seems designed for maximum inconvenience. For instance, it's closer from my neighborhood to this train station than to the nearest transit center, but the bus from my neighborhood only goes to the transit center. I'd have to catch yet another bus to get to the train station. If I wanted to avoid using my car entirely, it would take me an hour to get to the train station that's a ten-minute drive from my house. Then the trains arrive at inconvenient times. The standard workday starts at 8 or 8:30, and the train arrives downtown at 8:09 or 8:35. I figured that if I got desperate enough to go back to work at the medical center, taking the train (that stops at the medical center) would mean leaving the house about an hour earlier than I would if I were driving because even though the trip itself is faster than driving in rush hour, the times work out to where I'd have to take an earlier train to get there on time (and then arrive really early).

When I was released so early, I thought about making a day out in the city of it, but after walking around downtown a little while waiting for the next train, I changed my mind because it was so hot and muggy. That's something to be done in cooler weather. I also discovered a lovely park and botanical garden not far from my neighborhood. One day this fall I'll have to get a day pass and see just where I can go on the train.

Since I cleared the deck in anticipation of being tied up all week, I don't have anything pressing to do today. There may be a nap, since I had to get up really early and didn't sleep well after doing my usual thing of waking up and checking the clock every hour or so to make sure I wasn't oversleeping.

Oh, and since I won't have to go back downtown tomorrow, I need Enchanted, Inc. questions to answer. Send them my way!

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