I had jury duty recently. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the US jury service system, US citizens are periodically required to fulfill our civic duty by reporting to a local courthouse and making ourselves available to sit on a jury panel for a criminal or civil trial. The processes vary quite a bit from place to place but often you show up for a day at the courthouse and get sent home without actually sitting on a jury.
Unless you’re really lucky. Like me. Then, somehow, you get put on a jury 2 out of the 3 times you’ve ever been called to serve.
Together with seven other people, I got assigned to a jury panel for a 3-day civil trial. The case was strange. The testimony was at times fascinating, at times mind-numbingly boring. None of that is especially what I want to talk about.
Like so much else in life these days, I approached jury duty as an experiment. A socializing experiment. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to reboot my approach to interacting with strangers. It was a relatively safe, time-limited interaction–if things went poorly, I knew that I would only have to spend three days with these people and then I’d never see them again.
In the past, I would have done my best to pass, hoping that my fellow jurors would like me and more importantly, not think I was too weird. This time around, I made a conscious decision not to worry about that. Continue reading Socializing: Reboot