Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Countdown To Jury Duty II"

A retroactive retrospective, awaiting the “Guillotine Drop” of my Jury Duty.

August 4th, 2014.




I never know what that is.  There is no “red line” underscoring the second one, so my computer tells me it’s that one.  Not that this information is helpful.  Next time, I will not remember again.

However it’s spelled, it appears to be an admirable aspiration.  Taking things in stride.  “Steady as she goes.”  Living life as a Doris Day song:

Que Sera Sera.

“What will be, will be.”

That’s the objective.  “Bounce-hit”, as described memorably – at least for me – in The Inner Game of Tennis.  (And I don’t even play the game.  Why did I read the book?  To help internalize the concept.) 

Reacting to things comfortably as they come.  Yeah.  That’s the equanamitous – make that equanimitous – although that’s underlined in red too – ticket.

How close have I come to attaining that objective?

I am truthfully nearer the other end of the spectrum, where you anticipate the future with your eyes gaping in terror and your hands protectively covering your face.  (Or whatever you determine needs protective covering the most.)

Concerning my anticipated Jury Duty, it is now the Second Chapter of Five.  You call in, and if they say “We don’t need you tomorrow”, then you call in again.  The rule being, five “We don’t need you tomorrow’s” and you’re sprung.

I immediately consider the odds. 

“One ‘We don’t need you tomorrow’ down – and four to go” is literally accurate.  But what exactly, in terms of the probability of my ever being called does that mean?

It turns out, it means nothing.

I do not know the total number of Jury Duty summonses sent out every week, so I am ignorant as to “one-out-of-how-many” chances there are involved in my selection.  What I do know is this.  Though I could possibly be exaggerating about “know.”

As an overall “Rule of Thumb”, it is probably unwise to glean your mathematical understandings from a fictionalized stage play, as I obtained mine from Tom Stoppard’s magnificent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (first produced in 1966.)  Biographically, however, that was my only available option.

When I was in school, I dropped every math course they permitted me to, my only alternative then being to acquire my mathematical wisdom elsewhere, in this case from the highly trained actors of England’s acclaimed National Theatre.

Here’s what I learned from R And G Are D:  (And if it’s wrong, blame the playwright – his First Name:  “T.”)

You flip a coin, and every time you do so, it is a completely new ball game.  No matter which side it lands on, or how many times it consecutively lands on that side, the next flip is entirely independent of that track record.  Mathematical Conclusion:  Every coin flip is an individual “Fresh Start”, with an equal, fifty-fifty chance of being “Heads” or being “Tails.”  

That being the case – and for those with most rudimentary mathematical aspirations, it is – being told I was not needed for Jury Duty on Monday neither increased nor diminished the probability of being needed for Jury Duty on Tuesday. 

Or the following days thereafter. 

Scary Realization:  My future as to Jury Duty (and perhaps more of my life than I happily care to acknowledge) is entirely, unequivocally and agonizingly in the disinterested hands of “Random.”


I believe, the opposite.  (Which plays havoc with my equanimity.  Which I believe is correct.)   

I catch sight of the clock shaped like an old-time radio in my office, and I realize…

It’s Time.

(You cannot call in until after six P.M.)

I take a deep breath.  I pick up the receiver.

And, with a quivering “Pointer” finger, I press down the numbers.





My life moving inexorably towards its uncontrollable destiny.

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