I went for jury duty with a friend who suffers from agoraphobia (fear of crowds) and who was promised a couple of months ago when she postponed her summons, that if we came together, we could serve in the same court room.
That was the predicement under which we both went, not quite sure who to talk to and how to negotiate it.
We arrived to a long line of New Yorkers lined up to enter the building on Centre street, and get screened for security. When you’ve lived here long enough, you can tell in these lines, who is eager to connect or engage or relate, and who is not.
People convey it through their energy. Most faces convey impatience or anxiety. A feeling of “I want my space”. “I’m too busy for this”. “I don’t want to be bothered.” “Can’t wait to be done with it.” There are those who want to talk, tell you about their life. Engage you in their problems and voice their complaints. And those who want to connect, have a good time, make light, be funny, laugh, enjoy, and relate. Those with whom you feel you have become instant friends, and feel calmer, more joyful, more energized after engaging. I’m one of those, so, I spoke to the woman standing behind me who was feeling chilled, because she didn’t dress warm enough for the whether. We spoke in Eubonics, so it was easy to relate.
But the true test came in dealing with the personnel. OMG. The sour faces, the angry manner, the indifference, the frustration, alienation waiting to happen. Barking at you when you’re trying to be polite…. “let’s go!!!!. Making you wrong – “Why do you have scissors in your bag?”. Making you feel stupid – “Hello???” Acting irritatingly authoritative – “I have never heard of anything like that”. And the worse one – public humiliation – “These folks want to serve with each other because she is phobic….”. Those of us, who are sensitive to voice-tones, especially criticism and humiliation, have to work extra hard to manage our reactions.
Eventually, we ended up at the head supervisors office. It felt like going to see the president of Jury Duty. Seated behind a large desk, he asked me to wait outside, as he was interviewing my friend.
Then he calls me in and said: “She tells me that you travel with her all over the world and keep her calm.” “How do you do that?”. “Well”, I answered, “breathing, moving, self compassion, calming presence…”. “What’s the name of your company?” he asked, “Calming Your World” I said. His demeanor softens as he reached out to the caulk board behind him and pulled a card saying “I’m blessed – not stressed”. He gave us his card and said: “Come back in a year, and tell me how you’ve been calming your world”. I gave him my CD b r e a z e l o v e, and thought we should offer a proposal to train the staff. Needless to say, my friend and I went out and had a grand breakfast to celebrate our triumph of the day.
Image credit: a n i. Y