A couple of weeks ago a summons for jury duty arrived at my parents' house for me. This was surprising to me for two main reasons: 1) I've actually never been called for jury duty, which is surprising in that I'm 29 and have spent the last decade as an adult American citizen; you would've thought I'd have been called earlier; and 2) I haven't lived at my parents' house in a decade.
It was really the second reason that made me pause. When I thought about it, not only did I realize that I have not lived in Mechanicsburg, PA in exactly 10 years, but I also have not worked there since I was 18. Strange that it took this long for them to send me a summons, when I never received one in the three years I lived as a tax-paying working adult in Philly or the one year I lived in Kansas.
The summons was for the month of October and did not specify a date or even a week I would be needed. Very easily, I went online and filled out a request for disqualification, which was granted in less than 24 hours, the reason most certainly being that I do not live in the state of PA. (I suspect that when the state says they will pay for your transportation expenses to and from court, they don't mean an $800 plane ticket.)
To be clear, I have nothing against jury duty; in fact, I think it's a privilege to serve and I am frankly aghast at how some of the most progressive, liberal Americans manage to "get out" of having to serve by lying or making up all manner of excuses. It's precisely those kinds of people I'd want to have on a jury. (The progressive, liberal kind, not the lying kind, obviously.)
It was about the time that the letter came that I made the decision to visit the US this month. This was a rather abrupt decision, completely unplanned or thought out really. After I booked the tickets, though, I realized I could spend a morning at the PA Department of Motor Vehicles getting my driver's license -- which expires on Oct. 24 -- renewed. This would work out great, I thought: I've got the jury duty summons letter as proof that I "live" in PA and can thus obtain a PA state's driver's license
(In case you're wondering, the US federal government does not issue driver's licenses; only individual states do and in order to get a state driver's license, you have to prove residence there.)
However, in the year since I have last been in the US -- when the rules to prove PA residencey were much more lax and I unfortunately forgot my social security card, a crucial part of getting a new driver's license -- the laws have changed and you now need two of the following in order to prove residency in PA:
- Tax records;
- Mortgage documents;
- Lease agreements;
- W-4 form (a form showing wages from employment);
- Current weapons permit;
- Current utility bills.
Let's all just do a collective "WTF?!?" on No. 5.
Now that's done, um, yeah, I don't have a single one of those things, so no driver's license for me. After Oct. 24, I will no longer be able to operate a motor vehicle anywhere in the world. That means no driving in Spain this Christmas and no driving the Aegean coast of Turkey next summer. Drats.
So I can't serve on a jury, nor can I get a driver's license.
At least I still have my passport and can vote for president.