So there I was, called for jury duty. I can't really complain as I'd never been called since I became a citizen in 2002. I was called many times before that but due to "alien" status, never required to serve. It was just that there's a lot going on in my life at the moment, and last week was not the best. Unfortunately there wasn't a box for "really busy", so I turned up.
What a colossal waste of time and money. It's no wonder the state of Illinois is bankrupt.
In this state it's one day/one trial, unlike some states which require you to serve or be on standby for two weeks and other durations.
I followed directions to the far south west side of Chicago - not the most salubrious of areas, but one in which you'd expect to find a massive criminal court. I parked in an equally huge parking lot/car park and followed another woman clutching a jury summons into the official building.
First step, the security line. Let me just say that I will never complain about airports again. We were herded (the guilty and the innocent) into two lines, for males and females. Having a full set of teeth and a covered up cleavage, I stuck out like a sore thumb so thought it wise to bury my jury summons deep in my handbag. You never know what might set these people off.
Then I sat for seven hours in a large jury waiting room. SEVEN hours.
There were probably about three hundred potential jurors in the waiting room. None of us were even called till 12.15, and then they announced a lunch hour at 12.30pm. I didn't leave the room as I'd wisely brought a banana and two tangerines. By about 2.30pm, around a hundred people had been called in small groups and spirited away, I know not where. The rest of us were dismissed and given our pay checks - a whopping $17.
As I said, what a waste of time and money.
We have a new mayor in Chicago who's promising big changes and a reduction in sloppy beaurocracy. I think I might write to him about the absurdity of calling more people than is possible to process in one day. Apart from the waste in the $17 checks we all get, there's the people who print the checks, the people who tell us to line up for them, and the people who hand then out to us. I think a sensible look at processes like this could have us back on budget in no time.