Rant & Rave: Shuttle Drivers and Jury Duty

February 2013

Rant: We’re tired of the FREE MallRide shuttle drivers who leave us hanging.

I take the light rail from Mineral to Union Station every weekday with other workers who are commuting to LoDo. When the train pulls up to the station, we all hightail it to the free mall ride, which will take us to (or at least closer to) our offices.

That is, unless a certain driver is on duty. If that guy is driving, you should keep walking to your office, because, trust me, you’ll get there faster. Just like clockwork, as soon as he pulls up, he hops out, lights up a cigarette, chats with coworkers, and completely ignores the bus filled with people trying to get to work on time. Now, I realize that he drives on a schedule and probably isn't required to leave the station until a certain time. That, I can understand. But couldn't he just tell us? A simple: "The next bus leaves in 10 minutes," would suffice. It would calm nerves immediately, and would help educate us on when and what to expect from our free ride. —Davina van Buren

Rave: We like jury duty (no joke).

This week, I arrived at the brand-new Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse for an 8:30 a.m. jury duty call. I wasn’t excited. Neither was the guy to my right, or the woman on my left. As the instructional video—the equivalent of a judicial pep rally—rolled, I scanned my work emails. I half-listened as people on the tape raved about our judicial system and this unique right. This privilege.

But try as I might to remain a petulant citizen, I couldn’t. Yes, I was annoyed about the work I would have to catch up on. Yes, I felt frustrated that my son would be at day care an hour longer than normal. Yes, I was pissed that the brand new parking lot charges $6 per day even though many jurors would be released at noon.

All of that was trivial nonsense when I thought of the people—my fellow citizens—waiting in courtrooms above me for a jury of their peers to evaluate the facts of their cases and render a verdict that would change their lives. Suddenly, catching up on work, figuring out day care, and paying parking costs seemed irrelevant.

So, when my number was called that morning, I reported quickly to a courtroom. I’d done this before: I performed my civic duty as a juror years ago in a criminal trial that lasted several days. To be cliché: It was a formative experience that taught me how fragile our legal system is—and how we must protect it. Since then, I’ve dedicated much of my journalistic career to writing about criminal justice issues. My takeaway then and now? This is important, folks.

When I was picked for a jury this time, though, I had one request: I am a breastfeeding mom and I would need to pump every three hours. I announced it to the court. The judge didn’t falter, but immediately offered me a quiet place to pump (with an electrical outlet, no less!). The judge even inquired if I needed a refrigerator to store my milk.  And, sure enough, we stopped frequently—and long enough—for me to pump during the proceedings.

While it was my civic duty to serve in that room, on that jury, my fellow citizens made it their personal duty to make sure that I was comfortable. As a new mom, I can tell you that not everyone is so accommodating. When the trial was over, when the judge shook the jury’s hands, I had to thank her. I left the courtroom reminded both how lucky we, as Americans, are to have the imperfect judicial system that we do, and how we, as the people, have a duty to help each other, too. —Natasha Gardner 

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow senior editor Natasha Gardner on Twitter at @natashajgardner or on PinterestFollow digital assistant editor Davina van Buren on Twitter at @davinavanburen or on Pinterest