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Civic duty musings & observations - Denese Richards

I've been registered to vote since I was in high school, but I am just now being called for jury duty for the first time in my adult life.

I'm happy enough to do it, I have an opinion on almost any subject.

It'll be interesting to see if I get "picked," because I bleed red, white, and blue; I'm a feminist; I have been in Henry County since before the first Small Claims Court Judge - I'm allergic to bigots, and I have absolutely no patience.

The process so far has been relatively simple. We received documents in the mail telling us to appear at the courthouse. You give your name and juror number, and then sit with a couple hundred of your new friends. Great social opportunity to see a bunch of your neighbors.

If you are called, it is by your name and juror number. Otherwise, you sit. And sit. Stretch and yawn. And sit.

Somebody will come in a while and start a DVD. That is kind of pleasant, and the new renovated courthouse is super nice; it doesn't even smell funny any more. The seats are okay, it is just that 40-year-old rear ends don't have the same comfort level as they did 20 years ago.

Nodding off is a fairly popular pastime.

I've always enjoyed a good book every now and then. I never knew it could be such a life saver. I was suffering from sensory deprivation.

Even with all those people and the DVD, it was REALLY quiet compared to my normal day of random chaos. At lunch on that first day, I hightailed it over to my office to pick up the book that my assistant had given to me as a gift, Lee Iacocca's "Where Have All The Leaders Gone?" Mr. Iacocca has a lively, thought-provoking way of writing.

I won't say that we don't differ on some points; but we both agree that if you don't vote, then you shouldn't complain.

For my birthday, my husband had given me a mp3 player. Now I understand the true value of that beautiful little device. When the conversations around you deteriorate to the point of inanity or irritability, you just tune in and zone out.

Since I'm a geek, my mp3 player has about 4 gigabytes of music on it. I can go for hours on that thing. Between the book and the music, this was starting to work for me.

The only thing I need now is a treadmill. You know this could work, don't you? I know you cannot have the ones with the televisions, because jurors are not supposed to have outside influences. But most of us already have books and magazines.

Space would of course be an issue. However, you know that most folks couldn't stand to be on one for more than 30 minutes to an hour, so the rotation would go fairly quick.

Given government budgets, and liability issues, I know it is just a fantasy. But I sure do like the idea of killing two birds with one stone - knocking out your civic duty and zapping a little cellulite in the process.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-service, networking, partnership organization in Henry County.