The Value of Down Time
October 21, 2009 - 6:39am

There’s never a good time to be summoned for jury duty, but my last experience was particularly painful. Not only were we on deadline for this issue, but I was about to leave for the ALA Conference, immediately followed by the Las Vegas Market. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a silent room for an entire day with limited access to phone or internet while more pressing preparations loomed back at the office. And what would I do if I were actually selected for a jury?

Anyone who has ever shared a flight with me knows how overly prepared I am for inevitable delay. Some of my circuitous journeys — as certain Framburg and Crescent Brass folks can attest — have been nothing short of epic, occurring predominantly while attempting to return from the Dallas Market to Chicago each January. Neither city is known for stellar conditions at that time of year, compounded by the fact that both have boasted “busiest airport” honors, depending on what criteria is used to bestow the distinction. So over the years, I’ve spent plenty of hours on tarmacks or even temporarily in Missouri and Ohio, asking the poor person in the middle seat if he wants to play a game of Mad Libs.

I envy those who can find peace in passivity. I always have to be doing something, even if it’s just a sudoku puzzle. Growing up in Minneapolis, for car trips to my grandmother’s house in Winona, MN, my bookbag always burst at the seams with the entirety of my playroom peeking out. And that was just a two-hour journey, including the stop at Dairy Queen.

Maybe I’m just trying to console myself as I sit in the jury assembly room, but “wasted” time really can have worth. When facing a challenge, how many solutions have surfaced not while devoting full concentration to the task at hand, but in the shower, during a commute or while doing something. completely unrelated like playing ping-pong. So I’m going to embrace this inconvenience and sit back with my substantial September Vogue, letting my synapses fire away in the background. Bring on the revelations!

In addition to its business-boosting agenda, the ALA Conference will be an opportunity for the same essential change of scenery. (Check back in our November issue and on for our color-guard-to-closing coverage.) I just hope to experience it actually at the Terranea Resort and not at LAX

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