Friday, January 29, 2010
I was called for Jury Duty for the first time a few weeks ago. For some reason, it still surprises me how much my son's food allergy affects me and will affect him as he gets older.
The first thing that struck me was when I was reading the instructions on my jury notice.
"In order to ensure the safety of those entering NJ courthouses, all persons,
including jurors, are screened when entering a NJ Superior Court courthouse.
Chemical agents, pepper sprays, or anything resembling a weapon, including scissors, will not be permitted into the Courthouse - for the safety of the public."
Hmmmmm. Does an Epi-Pen qualify as something resembling a weapon? To be on the safe side, I removed it from my purse and stuck it in my glove compartment. I'm sure a 1/2 inch needle would raise a few eyebrows on its way through the conveyor, not to mention what color the epinephrine liquid would show up. But of course there was the one day, upon returning to jury duty from over the weekend, that I had returned the Epi-Pen to my bag and forgot to remove it. Luckily I arrived in enough time to squeeze in an extra lap to the parking deck and back.
But I do have to tell you, I felt a little naked without it. Even though Scootch wasn't physically with me in court, and logically I would have to go back to my car where the Epi-Pen was if anything happened and I needed to get to him, it was just amazing how bereft and ill-equipped I felt as a mom to a child with allergies without it on my person. It was almost as if I forgot to put on underwear.
The second most striking element was the food, of course. The vending machines, the fellow jurors, the staff; the smell of nuts was literally in the air. There were 24 items out of 59 in the vending machine that were nuts or physically contained them, and I'm sure the remaining 35 were processed in a contaminated facility. Jurors snacked on nuts in the assembly area, or dropped them in the chairs in the deliberation room. I was literally imagining all the seemingly innocuous nut traces being left behind on every surface. Scootch hasn't shown sensitivity to airborne or trace nut particles, but I do fear its only a matter of time. And the free hand sanitizer the court provided is a nice touch in flu weather, but doesn't do much for exterminating allergens.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be de-sensitized from it all. But then again, my hyper-sensitivity also could be deemed an advantage for being allergy concious about my surroundings.
I spent 3 weeks on Jury Duty, and met some very lovely fellow jurors during the process. But as Scootch's mom I spent those 3 weeks politely refusing the mixed nuts and pistachio crackers, and thoroughly washing my hands before going to pick him up from daycare in the evenings. Hopefully Jury Duty for him in the future will be just as simple to safeguard.
(P.S. The attemped cookie recipe in the previous post was a hit! So much so that I didn't have time to photograph them before they were all eaten! So hopefully next batch!)