Aw, shit. Nobody likes getting a summons for jury duty, but, hey, it's our civic duty and all that -- got it, no prob, price of being a citizen, blahblahblah. But, c'mon, I got two today -- for two different days, no less, one on February 5, the other for three days later. So, of course, I did what anyone else would do: I threw them both away. No, kidding. Course. I called the Dallas County Jury Services Department at the George L. Allen Sr. Courts Building. Number's right on the summons: 214-653-6233.
Got the usual menu of options: Was I calling to postpone? No. Was I calling for stand-by jury service? No, but I would like to get on an earlier flight. Was I calling about inclement weather? Well, no -- streets look fine. Was I calling about location and parking information? Not so much. Did I want further assistance? Why, yes. Press 8. Okee-dokee.
After I pressed 8, I was greeted by a cheery male voice who welcomed me with open arms: "Thank you for calling!" Of course, Mr. Roboto had bad news: "All representative are assisting other customers. Please hold during the silence for the next available agent." So I held -- held it between my knees.
Then he shows back up, to apologize with what I felt was feigned sincerity: "Due to the high call volumne at this time you may be on hold for an extended period." Whatevs, dude. Got nothing else to do.
But then, the inevitable kick in the junk: I was returned to the woman offering the same menu of options heard at the beginning of the call. So I pressed 8 again. Got the guy again. This happened seven times, and it totalled about, oh, 24 minutes' worth of my precious time -- not that I was keeping track.
Then, of course, I got disconnected.
So I tried again. Got the same routine. Another 10 minutes' worth of wasted time -- but, hey, at this point, it's a blog item, so whatever.
Then I decided to call Judge Karen Johnson's office, since the summons both came from her. (I know: They don't really come from the judge whose name appears on the summons, but it was time to try a different route to nirvana.)
"Call Jury Services," said the woman who answered the phone. Kill me.
But I did it anyway -- glutton for punishment, I guess. And that guy did apologize for any inconvenience again, so there was that.
And then it started all over again: Pressed 8, put on hold, got the menu, pressed 8, put on hold, got the menu, pressed 8, put on hold, got the menu, pressed 8...till, finally, I was disconnected yet again. Time lapsed: 42 minutes and counting.
So, for lack of anything better to do, I called District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons' office. He wasn't in, but the guy who answered listened to my problem and told me I had the wrong number. Why, of course I did, because I was using the one on the summons, dumb-ass me. "I have 653-7210," he said.
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I tried it. First ring, a woman answers. Glory hallelujah! She listens to my problem, laughs, says, "That doesn't sound right." She asks for the certificate number. Swell -- except one summons doesn't have a certificate number, only my driver's license number. I give her that. She puts me on hold.
And, like, 18 second later, she comes back on the line.
"So, you can just choose whatever date you'd like to serve," she says. "But bring both summons with you. We will have you fill out a form so we can add them to the voter's file, and when you get summoned in the future, you will only get one. It's pulling up the voter number on one and the driver's license on the other, because we pull up numbers and not names. But I can see here you are the same person, and we'll just disqualify one when you come in."
You are the same person. That's what I've been trying to say. I just needed someone to listen. --Robert Wilonsky