Some people go to great lengths to do their part and participate in the nation's promise of a fair and speedy trial.
On occasion, it's these same people who are coping with the lowest form of fair.
This thought comes on the heels of a conversation I had about a friend's obligation to serve on a jury in a Hamilton County civil trial. She lives in the suburbs and was relying on public transportation to get to and from the courthouse in Downtown Cincinnati. Not a regular experience (I'd gander to say it's been decades since she actually rode a bus for anything other than vacation transportation), my friend was taking advantage of the service while avoiding the sometimes treacherous, icy roads.
This friend was relaying to me the "drama" of not having proper winter boots (and also making the unfortunate decision to wear thick socks and Crocks - okay so maybe this has implications regarding her ability to make a fair judgment) and coping with the bits of ice and snow making their way into her footwear.
She was walking from the courthouse with a fellow juror when my friend asked him to pause so she could extricate one of those icy annoyances, offering a quip about how she expected a cold wait at the bus stop. That's when the man mentioned that he was also dreading his own walk home.
"You must live close by," she said.
"Well, no. I live five miles away."
Let's underscore that point: This man walked five miles in the snow and ice to serve his time on the jury.
"Oh, well maybe you should take the bus home, too," my friend said. It was a reasonable suggestion - cold weather = taking advantage of opportunities that enhance one's ability to cope with copious snowfall.
The gentleman offered the simple explanation that he didn't have enough money for bus fare.
My friend must have felt awful. I know I would have - I would have felt so guilty for having the means and ability to use something that is so basic, a public service that exists in part to support the disadvantaged.
I asked my friend if she offered the man bus fare, and she told me she didn't have any extra cash on her. I know I would have also felt awkward about the exchange. Would he think me patronizing? Would he be too proud to accept? Would the man take insult with the offer?
I have always had a weakness for those in need, and I suppose that's why I've committed to giving my time to initiatives that aim to provide a hand up, not a hand out. I am also giving what charitable contributions I can; my line of work is called non-profit for a reason, so my financial support comes with a bit of sacrifice. I'm okay with that - someday I hope my financial means will allow me to increase my philanthropic contributions.
I suppose I buy in to that whole wealth redistribution concept.
Sometimes I wonder why fellow members of the Fortunate Class fail to see beyond their own needs - their needs for bigger, better, faster, stronger. I can't comprehend why these privileged people are unable to consider their own blessings and imagine a life of have not. I think of these people, the ones who cast a blind eye, and I force myself to see more, and visualize what else I can do.
There but for the grace of God...
I suppose right now giving a man bus fare (or a hot meal, or non-perishable goods, or a decent tip) is the best thing I can do.