I admit it: I’m a people watcher from way back. My mom said that, in the hospital nursery, all the other newborns were either sleeping or crying but I kept looking around. I kept an eye on the nurses, the parents, and the other babies. I guess I was just born to watch people with the utmost fascination. Who needs to sleep, cry, or drink milk when they can try to get a handle on everyone else?
In a completely good-natured, innocent way, I sometimes “group” people into categories. There are the grumble guts (the ones with permanent scowls on their faces – I avoid them at all costs), the sweet seniors (love them), the jocks (you know, they’re the sort that wouldn’t just foul you on the b-ball court, they’d foul you hard), the sour seniors (grumble guts with years of practice under their belts), the Tree Huggers (they don’t just carry their own bags, they snarl at your plastic ones – they also seem to be waiting for the opportunity to lecture you on global warming, Polar Bears, seals, world hunger….) and many others – ranging from baby divas to the geek squad. Of course there are some groups who are obvious: SuperMoms are the ones with 30 arms, the Cellphone Jokeys are the ones who are always riding a cellphone, Store Spinners (they take all day to shop and delight in each spin of the shopping cart) etc. My daughters are baby divas (well-dressed, perfectly groomed, very young females) and my husband’s a geek-squad/jock/Cellphone Jockey. Busy boy. Me? I’m a SuperMom/Tree Hugger/Coffee Chugger/Store Spinner. I’m also the driver you most want to avoid on the road. One of those who never seems to know where she’s going until she’s about a mile past it.
Yesterday, I reported for jury duty and, lo and behold, I discovered a whole new breed of people: The Land of the Lost.
I’ll get back to them in just a minute, but first a mini-rant. Why do people panic over the mere proposition of jury duty? It doesn’t last that long, it’s not that big of a deal, it isn’t hard, physical work, no one will pull a single tooth, and you sit more than you do anything else. Yet people practically panic over the prospect. I’ve heard of so many individuals who don’t even go – they act as though they never got the letter. Why flirt with that kind of trouble?! Even while there, people were trying to squirm out – even after the judge gave an excellent speech about civic duty and pointed out that he had served in Vietnam and suffered greatly all in the name of duty.
After hearing his speech, people still lined up trying to weasel out.
If you ever get a letter – just go. It’s not a big deal AT ALL. It’s actually very interesting. You might discover a whole new breed of people, too.
Which, of course, brings us back to our beloved Land of the Lost. There were over 100 of us there and this people watcher was in her element and on her game. So many people to observe and so little time. There were lots of sweet seniors, a couple of grumble guts and zero sour seniors (must’ve stayed home, miserable). There was 1 cowboy, 5 Woodstock Holdouts, and several Honey-Dos, husbands who looked lost without their wives to show them where to sit. There was a baby diva who was about 8 months pregnant – and she wore it beautifully. She was brave enough to show.
There were enough Christmas Sweater Ladies to make a softball team, and they each smelled amazing. Christmas Sweater Ladies are a tidy bunch and they have excellent perfume skills.
However…. a special group began to materialize in front of me. It was as though I was a photographer for National Geographic – on assignment to photograph…oh, I dunno, let’s say polar bears… when a family of seals (a new species never seen, let alone photographed) comes flopping up. Oh joy! How unexpected!
Hello, The Land of the Lost.
There were several individuals who seemed so completely out of their element that getting onto the elevator seemed taxing to them. They seemed frightened of every person they passed, they acted as though they were being sent to the Middle East for a stretch of 5 years. Following simple instructions seemed to be almost painful for them, poor dears.
It didn’t take long to figure them out. The Land of the Lost doesn’t get out much. Oh, they know their way around a television set and can work a remote control like an airplane pilot works his controls. They could tell you which show comes on which night, which channel it comes on, when the series finale will be, etc. The high end Land of the Lost-ites can even tell you which series are on dvd. They know what they’ll eat Friday night, they know where they’ll eat Sunday afternoon – after all, practice makes perfect and they don’t step outside of the lines very often. They don’t know any good books, they don’t quite know what’s going on in the world, and life outside of their home is a little overwhelming.
Their lives have become so routine that when they have to step outside of the norm, they are utterly lost. They’re the ones who don’t want to visit new cities, let alone other states (Heck fire, we’ve got all we need right here!). New experiences? Thanks, ma’am, but I like the ones I’ve been having for all these years. Time has cast them into a tiny little mold and they’ve hardened over the years. When taken out of the mold for any length of time they seem to have one thing on their mind: Getting back!
We can’t really be too hard on them. It’s easy to get into a routine. Why? It’s comfortable and everyone loves being comfortable. That’s probably why a lot of people have such an issue with serving on juries – it’s just a little too far out of the norm for them. Yet, outside of the norm (outside of the mold) is where TRUE growth happens. Each experience helps you to develop new layers and fill up fresh wells of life experiences to draw from.
The next time you’re faced with a situation that will be a stretch for you, welcome it! Don’t shy away from it or do back-bends trying to get out of it. See it as an opportunity to keep you on your toes, an opportunity to keep your senses sharp, an opportunity to stretch yourself and an opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences.
See it as a way to stay out of The Land of the Lost.