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Jury’s Out

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“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

John Wooden

Oh, I don’t know. After all, I’ve been severely rapped on the knuckles for being so unacceptable as to find pleasure in doing concrete, real, lasting kindnesses that I will never be known for doing. Curiously, by the same critic who just as severely mocked me as caring too much about what people think of me just because I happen to object to crude lies being spread about me. Whatever. What’s left unspoken in Wooden’s remark is what went ignored in both of those unjust criticisms: consistency — do I do it differently when no one is watching than I do when the whole world is inspecting?

But that’s not what I came here to blog about today. What now brings Wooden’s advice to mind is another axiom of the same ilk, one I’ve never learned from anyone else telling me so, but is at least as true as is Wooden’s wisdom:

One can be characterized by how one spends the time one didn’t expect to have.

More than anyone else you will ever know, I can say that with experience. I’m living it. On time I never expected to see.

And today saw that same experience on a smaller scale, more minute but just as telling as the whole big span of my current days. Today I had to go to the Country Courthouse to report for jury duty.

Time I didn’t expect to have to be doing anyway. I was originally called to report for jury duty in October. But October was thick with late-stage rehearsals for The Boardinghouse, for which I was to play the role of Mr. Richards. So already, to the rescue with my axiom: I choose to carve unexpected time out of this week in November in deference to a higher calling in October. Characterize me accordingly.

I could have a word or two here about how we all spend our time in the courthouse waiting to see if we’ll be called to sit on a jury. Am I really the only one who came prepared with things to do? Hmmmm. No judgment there, really. Maybe everyone else can be characterized by their sitting (and their fidgeting and grumbling) or their dozing. To each his own. I started by catching up on the e-mail I’d let slip the past three days during performances of The Boardinghouse, and I had work lined up for attending to once my inbox was clean. Characterize me accordingly.

Ah, but within minutes of when we were seated, in came the country clerk to announce we would not be needed, that we were excused for the remainder of the day, the week, the next two years! Alas! I was the only one to lift his hand high when the clerk started her announcement by asking who in the room came there wanting to serve on a jury. Well after all, jury duty is on my bucket list. Instead, I was driving back up the road calling Suzi to let her know I would be coming in a little later than the early dismissal might have suggested, since I had decided to start my unexpected bonus time out by joining the guys who were dismantling the stage set that had been built for The Boardinghouse. Jury duty would have kept me from helping out, but now I could do my part. Characterize me accordingly.

Ah, but getting out of jury duty so quickly meant that I was early enough to catch the tail end of stop-and-go commuting traffic, so by the time I arrived at our community stage, all that remained of taking down the stage was the set designer sorting out the very last few screws he would be putting away for the next play. Seems I can’t get a break today! Everything I might have wanted to do, they don’t need me. So I went home, now with time enough on my hands to be in a position to help Suzi take her upholstery project to the studio. Characterize me accordingly.

When then was postponed when Suzi remembered that we had an exterminator appointment scheduled for some time today. So I did a few chores before turning to something I had thought to do only too late: draft a set of poems supposedly to have been written by our drama’s Mr. Richards, who in the play had the distinction of writing very bad poetry, something I am highly qualified to do. So now we have The Boardinghouse Poems, written by the fictitious “Number Five.” Characterize me accordingly.

I would no doubt be insulted for even saying so. Told I’m bragging or pretending or something supposedly more characteristic of me. Whatever. How I spend my unexpected time is the same whether nobody’s watching or not. Characterize me accordingly.

bumper sticker [] - adrien

Written by macheide

10 November 2014 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Adrien

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