I lose everything. Stamps, especially. I know I have enough stamps to last a lifetime, but they’re tucked away somewhere secret, somewhere clever that felt self-explanatory at the time. I lost my little proof of service slip from jury duty, and then I got another jury duty notice, but in Brooklyn this time, because Brooklyn and Manhattan don’t really talk, they just wave casually at each other across the water and go on with their day.
Last time, three apartments ago, when I was on the Upper West Side, I wanted to get picked for jury duty, like a good little homeschooler, to see how the court worked. The case settled out of court, and all I learned was that the halls were full of stereotypical looking Jewish lawyers walking alongside defendants who appeared to be exclusively young, black, and male. Sometimes they were talking with quiet intensity. One of the young men glanced up and smiled at me for a split second—his face was ridiculously sweet, his eyes unguarded.
I’ve changed since then—it’s that sneaky, horrible process of becoming more jaded and less curious, of thinking that your time is more valuable and of being able to more clearly picture any commute. I called the Manhattan county clerk about twenty times, trying to get evidence that I’d showed up. No one answered. Finally, on my fifth call of the day, a man picked up the phone.
“Hi!” I said, “I’m trying to get proof of service, since I already went to jury duty, but then I moved to Brooklyn and now I need to prove that I went in Manhattan, and I’m hoping that I can, because I went three years ago, and I think you don’t have to go again for six years or something like that?”
“When you’re given proof of service, it is a very important document,” he informed me sternly. “It is not something you can just put down and forget about. You need to be more responsible.” Obviously, he was not in a good mood. He had dealt with a lot of irresponsible people like me. He had dealt with them all day long.
And this is when my voice changed. “I understand,” I said in a breathier, higher, more excitable voice. “It’s just that I’ve moved a lot.”
“There really isn’t an excuse,” he countered.
“Okay,” I said, repentant and slightly childish. “But can you help me out and send me a new one?” My tone went beseeching. It was wringing its delicate hands. It was wearing a little pink dress.
(let’s say…this one. source)