18 June 2012

Civic Duty

I got a notice for jury duty.  On its own that is not really noteworthy, but it just happens to be on the Thursday before my sister's wedding.  Because, you know, having finally worked out Chris' employment conditions to a point where there is a 75% chance he might actually be able to get leave when desired BAM! the government tries to find a way to ruin this event for us.  I hate to sound all paranoid, but I just feel like there is some kind of plot to ensure that nothing ever goes smoothly.  Honestly, I feel like I have really given enough in the name of serving this fine country so just get off my hump already. While I understand that this is my civic duty and a small price to pay for all my freedoms, but I need a break from giving a crap about the greater good. 

Basically I figured I would postpone it then just go later except, once I started to think about the mechanics of that, I realized that getting myself to jury duty, even for a single day, is a total bone job.  Childcare for SAHP is a real issue here.  In order for me to get to (best case scenario) my one day of duty I  need to outsource an entire day of child care.  That requires someone coming to the house, getting Charlie on the bus, caring for Lizzie all morning, getting Charlie off the bus, caring for both all afternoon, then taking them to whatever evening activities they are doing because lets face it, Chris certainly wont be rolling in at any point that could be considered useful.  That is a lot to ask of a friend who probably has kids of her own to shepherd and if I have to pay for more than $50 worth of this care (assuming my paperwork is approved and properly processed)  then I am effectively paying for the privilege of rotting in a courthouse all day. 

Since the government considers me unemployed I am not entitled to getting paid for being there.  I cannot claim any exemptions, the best I can hope for is a pass under "hardship" but, and you will love this, you have to show up on your appointed day to even get a chance to talk to someone about claiming hardship.  So basically, assuming I wind up doing this (odds are we will move before I get rescheduled so whatever) I pretty much have no choice but to pay for the chance to serve or just show up late with Liz in tow (definitely forbidden by the juror handbook) and hope someone takes pity on me and at least lets me talk to someone before I have to go AWOL to meet Charlie off the bus. 

I am not saying that SAHP should get a pass just by merit of their work status, but this system really needs some looking at if they expect people to serve without undue burden.  When I was working and sans kids, it was no big deal, there are lots of provisions for that, but now as someone "unemployed by choice," not so much.  Granted I have the "easy" out that Chris can burn a personal day (assuming we are out of the Navy and therefore privy to such luxuries) so I can go do this crap, but not everyone can do that.  If you are a SAHP and your spouse works hourly then the cost of getting to jury duty could be quite high.   If we were still in the Navy where time off for anything short of your own death/dismemberment is unheard off then where would I be?

How do other SAHPs juggle this?  In general, how do people who work hourly, but certainly make more than $50 a day make this work?  Is it fair to expect them to do so?  At the end of the day, no one needs to be looking out for middle class culturally white SAHMs like me, but clearly I am not the only one getting screwed here.  I guess I am just curious how anyone expects to get a worthy set of jurors out of a system designed to make being on jury duty the most arduous, expensive and unappealing task in the world.