I used to not understand why some people wanted so badly to get out of jury duty. I always felt it was a civic duty, and that we the people should live up to our responsibilities. Besides, most people with whom I've talked about it were people that, if I ever stood accused in a courtroom, would be the intelligent, level-headed people I would want to judge my fate.
Well, now it's my turn. I got my first summons for jury duty in the mail yesterday. The summons noted that, for the first three days, your employer pays you, but beyond that, the state pays $50 per day. Now I certainly don't consider myself to have an extravagant lifestyle. Although we don't have a whole lot of disposable income, bills do get paid, ends are met, and we only have three debts: the house, a student loan, and a car (which I only allowed because it's financed at 0% interest). $50 per day is less than 15% of what I make in a day to provide the means to sustain our life. My hope was that my duty would not last long enough to make that an issue.
This morning, I contacted my HR rep about the summons and what I needed to do. The email I got in response told me that I needed to submit an attendance form that I will receive from the court. However, I also found out something more. Because I am on contract, paid an hourly wage, my employer will only cover the legal amount of pay for those first three days, namely... $50 a day.
I am furious. I am being ordered to leave my employment and get paid what might as well be lunch money to perform my civic duty. While I'm all for doing my part, when it severely affects how I can provide for myself and my family, the cost is way too high. I can begin to understand why my income might have to be put on hold while I serve, but the bill collectors certainly will not. The mortgage payment will still be due, and it will still be the same amount. The loans still need to be paid. The gas bill will still come, as will the electric and water bills. Heck, if I didn't drive a hybrid, a much larger chunk of that $50 would be going to fill my gas tank just to get me to the courthouse each day.
So yes, now I get it. Now I understand why jury duty is thought of with fear and loathing. I am going to keep a prayer in my heart that I can be honest and true when I have to appear at the courthouse, because I am sorely tempted to do whatever it takes to make sure I get eliminated as quickly as possible. And I hope that the time I am needed will be very brief, so I can get back to my regularly paying employment.