Tuesday, February 27, 2007

397: Served With Hot Milk

I had jury duty yesterday and thought I'd document my experience, which may or may not show how good the NYC system is. I was contacted via mail on February 2nd for an appointment in the morning on Monday February 26th. Concerned about interpreters, but willing to serve cos I believe all the cheezy stuff about loving your country (go, country!) and the spirit of democracy (Weeha!) I immediately called the 1-800 line to discover that there was no easily available option for sign language interpreters - you had to call back during the week to get a live operator.

Does anyone else hate that? Maybe it's no problem for hearing people, but with the buffer time injected by relay, I hate having to make phone calls during the day. I work outside the office much of the time so VPs are not immediately available.

But on the website I found an e-mail address which got a prompt reply, even on a Sunday, and in a very short time I knew the name of my interpreter. So, okay. Good.

On the day I went to 100 Centre St., the location mentioned on my Juror Information Form, and easily found my juror room. One of the five televisions in the large room, which easily sat about 300 people, had closed captioning. I was able to find a seat in front of the TV, but since it was mounted on the ceiling, had to be lying almost flat on my back to read the words spoken by the Judge Judy look-alike advocating national responsibility. But as the terp said when I met up with her later, she was surprised even one had captioning on at all.

Yes, I said later, because she wasn't at 100 C. - apparently I was moved to 60 Centre St. and she believed I was late, when in fact I'd been trying to read closed captioning from 500 feet below. I'm SURE someone tried to contact me, saw it said no phone number, and let the matter drop. As Deaf people get older we realize how many of the problems in our lives have to do with the laziness of hearing people... but I digress.

Luckily 45 minutes after I arrived at 100, the juror facilitator came forth and with a short phone call I was directed to Julia in room 139 at 60 Centre St. Had I been there on time, I would have had to wait - the interpreter had just arrived. But I was lucky, I suppose - we found each other relatively quickly.

We went to the 4th floor to our jury room and ended up chatting, with much in common - one of those pleasant wonderful real live interpreter experiences you have sometimes when you meet up with a good conversationalist. We had seven hours to spend together, so again, lucky: people rarely consider personality in terms of interpreting, but it can make a huge difference.

I wasn't called today, and ended up dismissed. So that was my jury duty, relatively pleasant. I had some other appointments yesterday evening, so I took the time to walk in still-white city snow through the blatantly egotistic marble of the city hall complex and thought how nice it had been to sit and do nothing for an entire day but chat and relax.

My routine has been disrupted for a few weeks as I rearranged my personal life, learned to knit (one of my New Year's Resolutions. I guess I'm getting older: starting to keep them;) and became obsessed with the first and second seasons of M*A*S*H. (Now looking for a used copy of the third.)

Had a disappointment over the weekend - offered to film a bunch of testimonies about using VRI to share with the world the experiences of the people I saw at the DIRC meeting. Did manage to get one person on film, and promises of two more, but honestly, I want so much more... so I'm trying to figure out how to capture video from videophone and I want to offer to do interviews over VP about your personal experiences with VRI! If interested, e-mail me. I'm more interested in HONEST experiences than exaggerated terrible stories.*

Not mentioned on this website before, mostly because of blushing - I was nominated for Best Essayist in the Deafread awards. The award very deservedly went to Elisa of ElisaWrites, whose skill I have seen her develop and perfect over the past year. I had been hoping to show up at the banquet (at which, we were told firmly, we would get TWO free drinks, which in New York City is like half a month's rent at the prices in bars these days) but my ride got pinkeye.

I'll be sporadically blogging over the next few weeks till I get a routine settled again, then hopefully I'll get to try the vlog project. But - argh! - I have another filming project coming up also.

One final point - Breenie gives a good example of a cool Deafhood analysis, looking for her place, her relationship to others, where she came from as a person and a Deaf person and a woman... it's cool. She does this in context with the Gallaudet protest, which is cooler, and shows how one localized event can cause such pondering in individuals around the world
* Seriously - a honest experience is more than enough to show anyone why we have concerns about this. Really, just thinking about what would happen during a blackout or some other sort of emergency is enough to show anyone why we have concerns.