An Invitation From The High Sheriff
On Friday, I was having a perfectly satisfactory day. Irma, she of the cleaning fetish, was doing her thing with the vacuum cleaner and the radio. Then, it all changed. I heard somebody on my TV say something about a court case. My brain seized. My heart palpated. I did my stumble-run into the kitchen and started flinging old mail from one pile to another. No luck. At this point I started screaming for help. Irma calmly held up the notice and asked, “Is this the one?” It was the one all right. The one from the High Sheriff. And it said I better show up at the courthouse on Monday morning at 8:30 unless I was ready to die. Well, I thought, I might as well die because I am never awake at that ungodly hour of the morning. It isn’t as if this were news to me. The invitation arrived a couple of weeks ago. I forgot.
Irma has had more judicial experience than anybody I know so I trust her judgment. She advised me to go immediately to the Clerk of Court’s office to whine. If I don’t, she said, the Sheriff will come for me on Monday. It happened to her once. She related this with somber authority. She directed me to the “big courthouse”. The one with the guards and the x-ray machine at the door, you know. Yes, I knew. She agreed that I looked just about right for dismissal after she did a quick inventory of my appearance. Yesterday’s unmatched, wrinkled shirt and pants from the top of the pile on the chair in my bedroom. The shoes, a faded red pair of Crocs, that match nothing anybody owns. My hair, the envy of every kid in town who sprays, waxes and gels to get the equivalent effect. Now for the hearing aids, and I’m all set.
I grabbed the hearing aids (the ones I don’t wear) from their box and stuck them in my ears…dead batteries included. These state of the art digital pieces of junk have directional microphones. The wearer can set the direction and volume with these microscopic buttons on the tops of the transformers that go behind the ears. Apparently I set them once, accidentally, and have never been able to re-set them. I could hear better without the things anyway. Hey, they were expensive and my daughter says I can’t hear, so I gave them a try. I never dreamed that one day they would be worth every cent and every single annoying trip to the audiologist’s office. Their singular failure has endeared the things to me for life.
It was only after the fact that I read the Texas Government Code relating to the hard of hearing: § 6 OR HARD OF HEARING JUROR 2.1041. DEAF. (a) A deaf or hard of hearing person is not disqualified to serve as a juror solely because of hearing loss except as provided by this section. I had no idea that deafness would fail me here too. Thank goodness I did not know that piece of information on Friday afternoon at 3:30.
I arrived at the courthouse and was let in by three extraordinarily accommodating and smiling men in brown uniforms…with big guns strapped on. Obviously, they considered me to be a harmless, rather mindless old lady. They directed me, fingers pointed, down the hall to the elevator. Third floor; take a right; you can’t miss it, they said in that tone reserved for daft old ladies. I smiled and thanked them.
The Clerk of Court was wearing a pair of too-tight jeans and a tee shirt. She was friendly. I couldn’t hear a thing she said with those earplugs in my ears. I turned my head in what I knew was a foolish posture so she could see them. I gave her my best geriatric smile as I leaned in toward her over the counter in a convincingly earnest effort to hear. Without a single reprimand, she took my card with no information completed on it. In an apologetic voice, I threw in that I have a familial tremor in my writing hand. So far, so good. She’s swallowing this spiel hook, line and sinker, I thought to myself.
It was too late to get an affidavit signed and approved by the judge before Monday morning. I was about to feel slightly claustrophobic until she said she could “fix it up” so I wouldn’t have to appear ever again. She would grant me an extension until July. I must have given some kind of performance. She reassured me that she was entering all of this in her database (“computer”, she said) and helpfully wrote down the date on my summons: July 9 and suggested that I write the date on my calendar. I would be seventy years old by then, she said. Problem solved. I think I will adopt her.