The Summons

Dearest Rachel –

So, for the first time since the pandemic and the lockdown took effect, we’ve gotten a notice from the county: a summons for jury duty. Actually, that’s not entirely true; you received one back in the spring, but I had to call them up and inform them that you would not be able to make it, then or ever. Hopefully, you’ve been removed from the rolls due to that, but I imagine you’ll still be voting Democratic this November, like it or not. This is Chicago; well, Cook County anyway, and that’s how things have gone in forever. Why anybody thinks that’s a ‘Big Lie,’ I’ll never know.

Anyway, this time around, the summons was for Daniel to appear at the Maywood courthouse. At first, I was worried that this meant driving all the way to the Indiana border (a trip of nearly an hour – even on interstate roads – to a fairly rough neighborhood), but it turns out I’ve got Maywood confused with Markham. Dad, however, has pointed out that Maywood isn’t necessarily a whole lot safer, as far as that goes.

Obviously, both of us would prefer that, if he has to serve, that he be assigned to the Rolling Meadows courthouse just a little ways down the street. However, this is something that he has to request for himself, and I can’t call up the county on his behalf – at least, I don’t think I can. At least, he was willing to do so. Unfortunately, it turns out that he is not allowed to change locations ‘for the sake of convenience,’ which admittedly would be the case. So, theoretically, I’m going to be driving him down to Maywood in a couple of weeks so he can serve, and do his civic duty.

The problem is, this brings up another civic duty that he refuses to perform, one which will prevent him from doing this other civic duty he’s required to: wearing a mask in public. While it’s true that one of the administration’s medical professionals – who has been touting lockdowns and masks and stuff like that for quite some time – just the other day went on television to claim that cloth masks were nothing more than ‘facial decorations’ (a complete 180° turnaround from what the party line was last week), there is still a mandate throughout Illinois, especially in government buildings, like a courthouse. I find myself envisioning I was trying to get in, and him refusing to wear a mask, making a scene, and possibly getting arrested for disturbing the peace or something like that, and winding up in the dock rather than in the jury box. Yes, I know it’s an extreme scenario, but as a parent, envisioning the worst case scenario is all part of the job description.

While Daniel stayed home yesterday, and try to arrange a change of venue, I went to the ‘office,’ and discussed the matter with the folks. They asked if his condition couldn’t be made a mitigating factor; would they want somebody with autism, even one at a high-functioning level, in the jury pool? That may be a fair question, but he has been summoned before, and gone without incident in the past. To be sure, he wasn’t selected, and his status on the spectrum may well have been a factor, but I wasn’t with him at the time, and don’t know how that went. Really, the thing that poses a problem this time around isn’t so much his condition, as the circumstances surrounding us (which is to say, the pandemic), and his reactions to that, rather in defiance of local and state ordinances. So, while his condition might keep him out of the jury box, it’s not necessarily something that would prevent him from being called to duty.

However, upon further contemplation, the fact that the local edicts and ordinances have gotten more draconian (much to his irritation, and mine) may just be his ticket out of this situation. As I mentioned just the other day, starting next Monday, he will not be allowed in public, as he has refused to receive a vaccine, let alone the two-and-a-booster that I imagine will be required shortly (which may even mean trouble for me, as I was only eligible for the booster shortly before I caught the infection in the first place; what with having antibodies coursing through my system, and probably for at least the next three or four months, even I don’t think a booster is necessary – or even advisable – for the moment. I’ll be finding out whether the original two shots will be sufficient for now soon enough, I’m sure). Even if through some Dickensian miracle, an overnight change of heart were to strike him, and he were to allow himself to be vaccinated for the first time this morning, there would be no time to get the second shot between now and his date at the courthouse on the 13th (yes, I just realized, Thursday the 13th; how auspicious). They’d never let him in, were he even to show up.

So, at the moment, it seems he may be impaled on Morton’s fork. He has to appear in order to do his civic duty, but they’ll never allow him in so as to do that. I’m not sure how to work around that. Perhaps he will have to call and try and get a health exemption; it isn’t as if he’s sick, though, nor is he likely to be, since he already has been, but the reaction to it all – from both himself and the government, albeit it in diametrically opposite directions – is going to pose a problem for him to even try to accomplish what’s been asked of him.

With all that in mind, I think he may have his work cut out for him. Wish him luck, honey. He’s definitely going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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