A civic pause

Editor's note: Dr. Doniger's column, Dental Diaries, appears regularly on the DrBicuspid.comadvice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

We are all on lists. We are on lists for professional organizations to allow our patients to find specific dentists in their area. We are on lists to receive mail for requests for charitable donations. Some send us catalogs for dental products or emails for daily deals. We are hopefully on referral lists from our patients!

How we achieve status on these lists varies: merely by means of our professional status, a response card to a magazine, or a donation to a fundraiser or charity. Removing ourselves from certain lists is almost impossible (although the "unsubscribe" button does work well on most occasions).

Then there are lists that we will never be removed from. We have all received the notices: the call to jury duty. How do they find us? According to a young Lester Holt, who appears in a "You, the Juror" video at the beginning of every jury duty day, they pull the lists from driver's licenses and voter registration.

When we receive our summons, we must inform our employer of the need to take the day off to perform our civic duty because the summons indicates you need to be present from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They do give you enough time to plan for the day, as the notice goes out weeks in advance. This means not only potentially canceling patients and changing schedules, but making arrangements for other events planned during the day.

So on a bright Monday morning, the first day of real spring in Chicago, I drove out to the suburban courthouse to serve my duty. With the new normal of heightened security, we had to go through the metal detector just as in the airport. At exactly 8:55 a.m., I walked into the jury room. It was nearly 9:30 by the time the rest of the prospective jurors strolled in. Finally, the deputy closed the door, and the jury room assembly clerk showed us a movie (the Lester Holt one) about what being a juror involved.

Once the video was finished, we were informed there was a potential for two juries to be called. We were not allowed to leave the room, in case they needed us. Facilities and vending machines were located in the brightly lit room. As someone wiser than me once said, "It is what it is."

As the day wore on, one of the most interesting things I observed was the lack of conversation. A room full of people and no one spoke. It was as if we were in a library, not a jury assembly room. As dental professionals, we are used to talking and explaining all day long. A day of silence was quite unusual, especially for me.

Another interesting twist to the day, aside from staying put and no conversation, was the lack of Internet access. A whole day without Internet -- something I had not anticipated. I had brought my netbook to do some research on a pending article and wanted to keep up with the rest of the world during the day.

So instead I did some writing. And some reading. Called the office to see if there were any emergency calls. We were allowed a two-hour lunch break, and I managed to get some errands completed and enjoyed the few hours of freedom.

Upon our return, everyone went back to their same seats, in silence. The assembly room clerk said if no panels were called, we would be able to leave at 2:30. Although the room was quiet and relaxing, there is always a thrum of anticipation if a panel will be called. As the "one day, one jury" service came to an end without a jury being called, there was a stampede to the counter to collect the $17 check for our time.

So I served my civic duty, causing a change in our patient scheduling. Thank goodness we are slower than normal and the office was not that ill-affected by the break in dental action. It was different to have a day without being interrupted by email and phone calls. Definitely a civic pause. Although once it was over, I was happy to be back in my regularly scheduled work week, with all the usual chaos.

Sheri Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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