August 16, 2013

The Lesser of Two Gambles

I'm not much of a gambler. (Though, with my addictive personality, I could easily become a spender on gambling entertainment. Too easily.)

I am strategic, intentional, and calculating. I don't like betting on an unsure thing, relying on luck and chance to determine the outcome. I like to play chess (and checkers) because I don't have to guess what cards are in the deck or in my opponent's hand, or whether they're lying or not. I merely have to predict their next move, perhaps several moves ahead, and respond accordingly. Although there is no certain fate - chess players don't always play perfect games, and sometimes miss the move that could've won them the game - it feels more controllable than, say, roulette. It's not pure probability.

It's like living life.

Today, I had to make a choice between two life gambles:

  1. Enter into jury selection process when I know I am not available for the next five days, counting on the fact that I won't be selected for trial (because I've never been, because I'm too smart and think too critically), and thereby complete my service week, get dismissed, and be done for a year
  2. Postpone my jury duty - even though I've been on the hook for it all week, living day to day, calling in every night to see if I would have to report the next day - knowing that I'll have to go through the same damn thing again in the next 90 days, the last four days having been wasted.
The thing is, this week would've been great for jury duty, and even a five-day trial. Being currently underemployed, I was able to clear my schedule enough so that jury duty would've only been a minor inconvenience.

But next week, I've got plans. Big plans. And although it never seems to be a good time to be a juror, getting selected for a trial starting next week would have been a disaster.

I could've taken my chances and not postponed. If I'd gotten placed onto an actual jury, maybe I could've called in sick Monday, risking the $1500 no-show fine, due process and criminal justice be damned.

But actually, I'd like to serve on a jury, to perform my civic duty on a panel of some potential criminal's peers. I never got to in Brooklyn or Manhattan, having been dismissed from the waiting room because I wasn't needed or from the voir dire because I asked too many questions.

So I chose to postpone the inevitable, and walked away from the juror selection process today with the relief of knowing I can have my week next week, uninterrupted.

But I've still got impending juror service looming over me, sometime after next week. If I'd gambled and not been selected today, I'd be completely free, a win.

But if I had been selected, it would've been a tragic loss.

And sometimes you've got to weigh the risk of losing more over the gain of winning.

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