Jury Duty!

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 6:15 p.m. in , , , ,

If you were one of the 4000 people who received a yellow letter in the mail summoning you to jury duty, as I was, I’d be very curious to know your reaction.  My reaction was, “Why me?  Why now?”  Just that morning on my happy walk through the woods where a mysterious Good Samaritan had cleaned away the enormous trees that I clumsily climbed over for months, I was attacked by bees and stung three times on the arm.  Then my husband phoned me at lunch to tell me that I had received a letter from the Ministère du Justice and did I want him to open it for me.  Bees and jury duty in one day makes me wonder about fate, destiny, and all that other existential stuff.

It is one week later and over the course of the week, I’ve discovered that many of my fellow Townshippers are experiencing the same call to be the lady with the scales, Lady Justice herself, and their reactions are joyful.  Most people have responded with fear.  What will I be asked to do?  Will it be some gory murder trial?  That certainly crossed my mind. Show me blood and I’m going to faint, and then have nightmares for the next twenty years.  Luckily, I never tried to work in an Emergency Room of a hospital because people showing up with things sticking into their bodies that should not be stuck in their bodies would just render me useless and possibly unconscious as would photos of the same.

There’s also the level of fantasy about delivering a guilty verdict to some gangland criminal and spending the next twenty years, (I’m kind of stuck on the number twenty in this article – I apologize for the repetition), living in fear of someone hunting down jurors, one juror at a time, once he got out of prison to fulfill his goal of the ultimate revenge.  You think you’re safe, and then, wham-o!

People who know that I write – whatever that means, we all write, we all have stories to tell only some of us are brave enough to put it on paper – where was I?   Yes, I was being a writer.  People who know of this habit of mine tell me that jury duty is a wonderful opportunity though I’m not sure to what.  My imagination is good enough for me, thank you very much, and most of us have sat through enough episodes of Law and Order to have a sense of the courtroom.  My nephew-in-law has told me on a number of occasions that this is patently untrue; courtrooms in real life are not at all like they are on television.  If that’s the case, I don’t need to sit through something more tedious than Law and Order to get a feel for courtroom tedium.  Tedium is exactly what writers are not supposed to convey, so I am hesitant to perceive jury duty as a golden opportunity.

What I find truly fascinating is that the people who have NOT been called for jury duty say that they wish that they had been summoned.  Maybe someone should go on television and say, “Who wants to do jury duty?  Call this number and come on down.  We will see if you’re the kind of guy or gal that we need!”  I bet they’d find people who would work out just fine.  There would be people who would be willing to give justice its best shot.  Unfortunately, most of the people that I know just aren’t champing at the bit to get into the courtroom and participate in the wheels of justice.

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Thank You, Good Samaritan With a Chainsaw…and Goodbye Terry Jones

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 2:30 p.m. in , , , , , , , , ,
This past Saturday, my husband came into the house after running an errand, waving an envelope that had the word, “Done,” printed in ink on the front. Inside the envelope was a cut out of my Somebody’s Mother column of a week ago, “Dear Good Samaritan With a Chainsaw.” My husband smiled and said, “The plot thickens.” You see earlier my long suffering husband who had put his back out badly walked the dogs and found that the three huge trees that had fallen in our dog-walking path and which I had written about in my last column were now sawn up and piled into neat logs on either side of the path.

Oh, Good Samaritan with a Chainsaw, you are truly a class act, and I and all the other dog walkers in the neighbourhood thank you! I’m especially grateful because on Friday after scrambling over the trees, I unthinkingly walked on the board that someone had put down over a small ditch to allow bikers to use the path. The board was wet, and before I knew it, my legs had flown up from under me, and I landed right on my back with my head slamming against the board and very luckily, not on one of the rocks nearby! I lied there and whimpered like a baby with my head aching and my neck stiffening up within moments. I told you that I’d break my leg, but I practically broke my head; I only have one of those. When I walked past those logs on Sunday, I was singing your praises.

I was thinking about you, Good Samaritan, and comparing your anonymous act of kindness to the type of media-grabbing, attention-seeking stunt that Pastor Terry Jones pulled by threatening to burn the Qur’an last week. As a librarian by trade, I’m not in favour of burning books; I’m rather set against that. I also think that someone who claims to be a spiritual leader, and who holds his government hostage by waving another religion’s holy book and threatening to burn it, is not very spiritual and is, in fact, committing a hate crime of the most offensive kind. There is a fine line between freedom of speech and hate crimes, and here in Canada, we have laws against hate crimes. I’m not so sure about Florida and what its laws consider a hate crime to be. Then again, when Bush won the election ten years ago because of the shenanigans with ballots and chits and such things, I began to have my doubts about Florida. What’s in the water down there?

As soon as Jones began his posturing, people’s lives were endangered once again and that becomes more urgent than the debate over a mosque being built near the hole in the ground which is the burying place for all those people who died when the planes smashed into the Twin Towers of my hometown, New York City. As I write this, people have already died as a result of Jones’ stupidity. No, they are not Canadians or Americans but they are people who have families who are grieving over them today and looking at this side of the world as evil just as some North Americans see them as evil when they burn our flags. Hate is a plague that is as contagious as swine flu. Who knows how many others will die because Terry Jones picked the ugliest way to attempt to gain power in a world where the media would allow him access to it.

In a week or so, Terry Jones will fade into obscurity unless he comes up with a new stunt that a gullible media will latch on to. The only Terry Jones some of us will remember is the member of Monty Python who is hilarious, and who should sue the pants off of the other Jones for besmirching his good name! I’ll forget him, but Good Samaritan, I won’t forget you. I’ll be telling this story for a long time.

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Dear Good Samaritan with a chainsaw…

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 7:51 a.m. in , , ,
Dear Good Samaritan with a chainsaw,

I know that you’re out there, and there is a vague possibility that you are reading this or perhaps there is a better chance that someone who knows you is reading this. In any case, I am casting out these few crumbs in the hopes that you will read this and help me one more time.

I have started walking my dogs with my husband in the woods just up the hill on Lorne Street in Lennoxville. I have already seen one of the wonders that you performed last year when you chopped up a tree that had fallen across the path. This tree was huge and my husband had to shorten his daily walks, which really was sad for the dogs. Then one day, lo and behold, the path was open again because you came along with your trusty chainsaw and chopped it into reasonable bits and placed those bits on either side of the path. This was an anonymously performed good deed, and I couldn’t properly thank you.

The chainsaw is a tool that has been much maligned, don’t you think? Normally, when people think of chainsaws, particularly city people, they think of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They might think of loggers who indiscriminately cut down old growth forests or beloved trees in parks. If they’ve been watching too much Space Channel, they might think of that dumb commercial that it is replayed excessively to advertise their evenings of horror movies. All this media coverage is giving the chainsaw a lot of bad press.

The media may be the reason that we don’t think of new beginnings or rebirth when we think of chainsaws, and yet this is what the chainsaw is capable of achieving. A chainsaw can clear away the dead wood and open up a new path where there was none before or bring back a path that had become blocked or overgrown. Its power is truly awe-inspiring.

People can be very narrow-minded when it comes to chainsaws. They can also be pretty stupid about them. Some people should never be allowed to use one. I myself would never pick up a chainsaw, and I would really prefer that anyone that I love never pick one up. I firmly believe in heredity, and clumsiness definitely runs in my family. The Eastern Townships will certainly sleep better in the knowledge that I will never wield a chainsaw even though I have a great need to do so, which brings me back to my original point about dog walking and the woods above Lorne.

Three great whacking trees have fallen across the path just behind the houses that face Lorne that are on my dog walking route…and the dog walking route of quite a few other people, I should add. Every morning, I have had to balance precariously as I scramble over these trees and I’m getting older and clutzier by the day. Come winter, there’s every chance that I’m going to break my leg going over those three great whacking trees.

Would you please take out that magic chainsaw of yours like the Good Samaritan that you are, and if you do, please leave a note behind so that I can thank you. You have taught me a lesson about chainsaws that I will never forget.

Your admirer, Ellen Goldfinch

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