If I Had the Power to Change–a Rant

If you had the power to change one law, what would it be and why?

The Word Press Daily Writing prompt lit me up. I read the question and thought: “Boy, howdy, I know exactly what I would change. I would change that ridiculous and disrespectful law that that says age cannot exempt a person from a jury summons.

You guessed it. I’ve received a jury summons. And it is printed clearly: “no exception for age or occupation.”

Yes, I believe in doing my civic duty, and I have a number of times in my life reported for jury duty. In years past, this meant my driving half an hour along pleasant (and fairly empty) country roads and into a town of a few thousand people and streets easily navigated. The court house was right across from the local feed and seed store. I went there often, and I was thoroughly familiar with each turn. To be summoned for a jury was fascinating when I was in my thirties and forties. I once served on a murder trial. Let me report it was nothing like on Perry Mason or in a John Grisham novel. It was a lesson in how human beings can be stupid and manipulative and confusing, and also how scrupulously fair jurors try to be in the face of all that.

I was still in my fifties when last summoned. This was for jury duty for Mobile County, which required reporting to the high-rise courthouse all the way into the middle of the City. Mobile, Alabama is not the sort of city with a feed and seed store. It is a CITY.

My husband was alive then. He always drove when we went to the City, which was rarely. In the manner of full support and caring, the day before I was to report, my husband drove me the route to the courthouse, and thus I learned the way. For five days I got down to the City and I got home, and I managed all annoying and trying contingencies of the day and travel.

Now here I am some twelve years later, and, I might as well say it–have reached my seventies. I’m more tired, and I’m alone, so everything is harder. The idea of driving into the City by myself is enough to put me under. (It should be noted that I also never again shall voluntarily travel by plane or bus, these falling under the heading of ‘been-there-done-that-often-and-am-done-with-it). Yes, I do pull my travel trailer down the interstate and on lovely back roads. I do not go into a city. Two years ago I drove the by-pass around Atlanta, and I swore I would never get that close to that city again. I haven’t. If those who built the courthouse would have had the decency to build it out away from the City, where it could be easily accessible, I would gladly go. But not into the City by myself. No, there is no one who can go with me. One of my friends recently had a medical issue. She reported that the nurse at the clinic could not seem to comprehend that she had no one at home to help her change a bandage. People are always amazed by this fact, but there are many, many of us who must navigate alone. Our family and friends are either working or tending others or physically unable to help, or non-existent.

I believe age should be accorded privileges, especially by the scales of justice. I remember as a teen going to the courthouse in my hometown. I walked from my home along tree-lined sidewalks, as it was in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Once this would be the case even in Mobile. But not anymore. The world has changed drastically. Going to these massive courthouses in massive cities is a complicated affair, and this fact in itself should be respected. I have earned the right to be exempt. I have served my communities and fellow man faithfully, and intend to continue to serve, but I should be accorded the respect to choose how I wish to serve. If I don’t want to drive into the City, I should not be forced to do so. The law should be changed.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

grace and peace,