I was sitting at a restaurant with my coworkers when I received the dreaded news from my mom via text:
I had been summoned for jury duty.
My first thought was something along the lines of oh, no. I already had scheduled most of my days off for the summer, not to mention that I always prefer to get paid a livable wage when given the option. I read through the summons and tried to find a loophole. Failing to do so, I gave a second thought to this obligation – one that considered all the positives about committing a week of my time to serving my country – that instead made me think heck, yes!
I decided to love and embrace jury duty.
How? Here are just three of the perks I came up with:
– Jury duty gave me an excuse to visit Port Washington, one of my favorite Wisconsin towns!
– Working in a courtroom let my eyes rest from their usual job of staring at a computer screen.
– Serving on a jury is a more active way to participate in democracy than voting alone.
Thankfully for many who live in less-populated counties, being on-call for a week of jury duty rarely means you will end up having to serve the entire time. I was only required to show up on Thursday, and I think that one full day of committed service was just the right amount of time for my first jury duty experience. While we were given permission by the judge to discuss the case we oversaw after the verdict was delivered, I’ll spare those details for the sake of focusing on what I took away from my experience instead.
Seeing as I hope for my blog to provide an exciting recollection of and inspiring lifestyle for those interested in travel, both within and beyond Wisconsin, I want to highlight Port Washington and the beauty of my home county. Ozaukee County is the second-smallest of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and borders Lake Michigan to the east. While all of its towns have incredible lake views and breathtaking bluffs, Port Washington is a hidden gem where the locals go to escape the traffic in Milwaukee and enjoy a pseudo-East Coast town. I can’t say I’ve spent much time exploring the New England coastline, but I will tell you that when I’m in Port Washington, I feel like I’ve just teleported to Massachusetts.
The harbor is its main attraction; with abundant green space, old lakeside dining establishments, and that unparalleled sound of boats swaying against the rolling waves, you’ll want to spend most of your time here outside. When I was younger, my family used to drive our houseboat up from McKinley Marina in Milwaukee and spend a weekend in the Port Washington Marina. On this particular lunch break, I had no such motor vessel, but I did have two feet and the excitement of a kid in a candy store. I only had time for a quick walk around the harbor during my lunch break, but this lakeside stroll showcases what is arguably the best view in town.
One thing I absolutely love about tourism is the passion locals have to promote their hometown to visitors. Surprisingly enough, jury duty is one of the best places to see this passion come to life! I loved having a meaningful and analytical discussion with members in my community that I may never have otherwise talked to, and especially enjoyed doing so without anyone being distracted by a phone. Having uninterrupted conversations is virtually a non-existent concept in today’s world and I loved, loved, loved not hearing a single beep, buzz, or brrrring for two straight hours.
Our discussion, of course, came with disagreements, but not conflict; opinions, but no bipartisanship. Everyone in the room was discussing important civic issues based on current legislation alone. While assessing the laws that govern our country is an important thing to do, jury duty is not the place to do it. Ultimately, I came away from jury duty feeling refreshed, empowered, and knowing that the work I did that day was more meaningful than any other job I’ve had so far.
If you are summoned for jury duty, figuring out the work, family, and financial accommodations you’ll need to make can be stressful, but I promise that receiving the opportunity to participate in a foundational civic duty will make you feel proud as heck to be an American.