The Indispensable Value of Free Time

I trust my friends to tell me the truth, and my best friend did just that this week.

“This trial needs to get the f* over,” said friend.

“Why?” said I.

“Because you’re acting like an asshole!”

Maybe those weren’t his exact words, but they were close. Another friend pointed out that I appear on edge. My boss really hates my time away. Everything suffers when our life, however temporarily, is disrupted by someone else’s schedule.

I’m on a jury. That’s all I can tell you about that. It’s not that bad, the sitting and focusing and taking notes part. That’s good for me, I think. I joke a lot about my ADD. I am truly an inattentive person, whose brain is always firing, whose eyes are always wandering, whose legs are always restless. I’m forced to sit, focus, be in the now. That’s good for me. I suppose that’s worth a couple of thousand dollars in lost wages. I suppose.

The hard part for me is the loss of routine.

My wife works a lot more hours than me, so I pick up the slack. Around the house, I do more these days. So I work a full day and, when I don’t take a much-deserved beer break with my buddies (or write a blog or something), I do chores. On my day off, I do a lot more. A ton. And these days there’s a lawn that needs mowing about every 4 days. A big lawn. I call it my park. And when I don’t keep it trimmed the dog poop is really hard to find. I’m happier when I can find the dog poop.

But lately, it’s hard to keep up.

I don’t know how I did it. Between the years of 2009 and 2013, roughly, I worked a 6-day work week. Voluntarily. I had another day off back then, during the week, but I wanted money more than time so I asked, and eventually demanded, that I get to come in on my day off. I make money when I sell stuff so, honestly, it didn’t cost the company any more. And I’m real good at what I do, so it actually benefited them greatly. And, for a while, I really enjoyed it.

Until I didn’t.

When I didn’t, it took me a while to get that day back. Folks get used to a person doing something so when I wanted that day back it took several months to get it. I call the day I got it back until today the happiest days of my life. I’m sure that’s a coincidence, but that’s honest: the last few years have been the happiest of my life, and I have two days off a week. Like I said, they probably coincide more than they correlate, but there could be some relation, too.

But not this month.

This month I sit in a jury box, in perfect attention, for three full days. Then I work, to sell stuff, for three others. I get Sunday off. I have a good routine on Sundays I don’t want to miss. I’ll tell you about it sometime, but when I don’t do it – this favorite Sunday thing – I get a little cranky during the week.

I’ve been really cranky, apparently, for the last few weeks.

You’ve probably noticed. No blogs. I love writing and I love sharing and I love Being Tom. I haven’t had as good an opportunity to do that in a few weeks. I’m spread too thin.

I have a good idea what I’m going to do when I get my time back. I’m going to take the boys for more walks. I will tackle some of those projects around the house that have been in procrastination-mode on my list. I’m going to write more. I’m going to read more. I will treat very dearly the time I’ve taken for granted. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I’m not here to complain; I’m happy to do my civic duty. I think people complain about it too much. The system is put together so that we, the fair-minded peers of our community, can gather and open-mindedly judge our fellow citizens in legal and civil disputes. Happy to serve. But it’s hard. It’s hard to lose a lot of money and it’s hard to lose a lot of time.

I’ll be glad when it’s over. I’ll do my level best to be the fairest of them all, and I will do this thing that I must do with pride and attention. But I’ll be happy when it’s over.

And so will my friends.

Thank you for taking the time to read my gripe.

Sorry if I came across cranky. 😉

2 comments on The Indispensable Value of Free Time

  1. Jury duty is a pain in the ass. I too hate that my routine is disrupted by, well, anything I deem an inappropriate assault on how I choose to spend my time. Yet, it is one of the most important things that we can do as a member of a society. To put aside our frustrations for “wasting” a day in a room to not be called in; or to spend many weeks secluded from your friends and family as you bare the weight of the dizzying legal system and in some cases, someone’s fate on your humble shoulders. Hopefully more people are like you in that they can see through the process how important the things are in their life that they may take for granted, or not fully appreciate until they can’t do them. Okay, so Tommy was distant and maybe snappy for a few days. That to me is an easy price to pay to know that justice was rendered by my peers towards another peer. It’s all so fragile. It can all fall away too quickly. Thank you for ensuring that for at least one more case the system worked how it was suppose to work. Cheers brother. Welcome back.

    1. Thank you, D! I agree. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, when the sum of it is taken in. Something I not only do not regret doing, but thoroughly enjoyed overall. I do not wish to do it again soon, but I hope that every person able would do it at least once, with an open mind. The case I was on was spelled out in the press as cut and dried, but it was not. Folks’ impressions of what transpired are wrong. The twelve of us who sat on that panel could not have decided this case accurately without the totality of the evidence. I’m glad the defense took the time to present it all, and I’m glad the prosecution did as well.

      Life is complex; we all do amazing things in our days and then make terrible mistakes at times, too. Often the difference between our mistakes and the most serious of consequence will come down to fractions of seconds. In this case a terrible mistake was made — a series of them, in fact — and within nanoseconds someone had died and someone else was responsible for that death. The last few weeks placed the burden of proof on the prosecution but the burden of justice upon the twelve of us. I took my role very seriously and was lucky enough to be on a jury of 11 like-minded souls.

Now, You Be You:

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