Thursday, February 25, 2010

Many are called, but few are chosen

JURY SERVICE: A Rite of Passage to Adult Citizenship

That's what the poster in the Jury Gathering Room for the United States District Court in Minneapolis declared. It felt just a smidgen strange to think that, at the age of 52 years, 6 months, and 14 days, I was finally becoming an adult citizen of the country in which I was born and raised. "Today, I am a man."

I had been placed "On Call" for jury duty for a two-month period, and here I was, one-and-a-half months into it, finally being called to the courthouse to be interviewed for possible inclusion in a jury for a civil case. Just the possibility of serving on a jury in the U.S. District Court gave me a heightened sense of my own importance...albeit inflated and unfounded.

I parked at the Mall of America and rode the Hiawatha Line light rail into downtown Minneapolis. That was a first for me. The one really interesting/strange/mysterious thing I noticed was a small panel on the inside wall of the train that looked like it was a speaker for a public address system. Okay, the speaker-panel-thingy wasn't all that interesting/strange/mysterious...it was the sign under it: PANTOGRAPH HANDLE.

I thought, "What the Sam Hill is a pantograph, and why does its handle look like a speaker-panel-thingy?"

According to Dictionary.com, a pantograph is "an instrument for the mechanical copying of plans, diagrams, etc., on any desired scale." Here's a picture of a simple pantograph being used to draw an exact copy of a triangle, only larger.

In my extensive research on the World Wide Wackfest, I found a picture of the actual sign in question (thank you, southtwelfth.tumblr.com) along with a paragraph proposing that the sign is actually a pre-printed graffiti tag of a gang called The Draughtsmen: "Who else celebrates the use of the pantograph?"

The far-less exciting and far-more likely answer was discovered when I looked at the second definition for "pantograph" at Dictionary. com: "In electricity, a device usually consisting of two parallel, hinged, double-diamond frames, for transferring current from an overhead wire to a vehicle, as a trolley car or electric locomotive."

What does all of this have to do with jury duty? Well, nothing really, but I don't really have much to say about the actual serving of jury duty: I didn't get to actually serve. In the pool of 18 people being scrutinized to whittle down the number to 12, there were 5 pastors or ex-pastors. I was one of them who got whittled.

Suddenly, I feel insignificant and unworthy to be called a true American citizen.

"Today, I was almost a man."

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