Friday, March 13, 2020

Jury Duty in the Time of Coronavirus

I haven't figured out the precise variable responsible, but: this entire millennium I've gone around with a bureaucratic bull's-eye pinned to my back, compared to my spouse or certain other adults I could mention: in Connecticut, Virginia and now Georgia, I got a jury duty notice while Jeff remains blissfully unencumbered, even though he and I have each registered a car in our name, registered to vote and other activities which, according to legend, make one more likely to get called for jury duty.

I got the notice last Saturday, and after the expected obscene grumblings went online to register as required. Then the COVID-19 coronavirus came to Georgia, and suddenly I'm a minor background character in a poorly written sci-fi pandemic movie.

Did you know that Georgia has a state park called Hard Labor Creek? I didn't until this week, when I initially misread a certain news announcement as saying the state was sentencing coronavirus patients to quarantine at hard labor. Then Fulton County (one county over from where I live, and home to much of Atlanta) closed its public schools due to the coronavirus.

Jeff and I were out running our regular weekly shopping errands yesterday when word came down that our own county of Dekalb had also closed its public schools due to coronavirus concerns.

We stopped at a Target and the toilet paper aisle was completely empty, though we had no difficulty buying other things on our list. We went to our favorite (nice-neighborhood) Kroger an hour or so later -- the school-closure notice come out sometime after we left Target but before Kroger -- equally gutted TP aisle, and the rest of the store was packed with panic buyers. The checkout lines were so long they stretched all the way to the back of the store. I have only ever seen that once before in my life, in news photos of Houston supermarkets just before Hurricane Harvey drowned the city. So we left the grocery store without buying anything, since we didn't want to wait in those insanely long lines. (Fortunately, we could afford to do that since we weren't remotely close to running out of "food" at home; at worst we were running low on certain perishable foods we particularly LIKE.)

On the other hand, this morning before I woke up, Jeff went out to our local (low-income-neighborhood) Kroger and was able to buy some TP (though not our regular brand), a loaf of sandwich bread (ditto), and most of our regular everyday grocery-list items too.

I'm not too terribly worried about the virus itself, but I am concerned over how our country will respond, especially regarding the Trump administration's with the usual “deny, deflect and kick scapegoats” method of governance. And I find myself dreading jury duty even more than I usually do.


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