I went to the post office today and mailed some letters. I was given the new Jury Duty Stamp.
Now, the much easier way to send messages these days is either by email or by postage meter --- but maybe I am old fashioned.
I still like stamps.
The folks at the US Post Office are very creative about 'who', 'what' and 'where' they honor on their stamps. Unlike the folks at the US Mint who are generally limited to dead presidents for our money, the folks at the US Post Office can be much more creative.
And sometimes they get really darn ingenious with their choices.
Recently there have been stamps issued to honor the Hershey’s Kiss, singer Ella Fitzgerald, Darth Vader, and even Marvel Comics superhero/villian Silver Surfer.
And sometimes they are as conservative as the US Mint: A recent stamp honored former president Gerald Ford.
But they really must be running out of ideas this time.
They issued a stamp earlier this month to honor Jury Duty. No, not the 1995 movie with Pauly Shore. The societal obligation.
Yup, that public responsibility that nearly everyone and their mother tries to avoid now has its very own stamp. For just 41 cents, you can send that birthday card to your Aunt Fanny in Florida or the money you owe your Cousin Marvin in Minneapolis ---with a tribute to Jury Duty in the upper right hand corner of the envelope.
"I am thrilled by the Postal Service's issuance of the Jury Duty stamp, which celebrates the important role of our citizenry in the delivery of justice," said Chief Judge Judith Kaye of New York. "We rightly take pride in this uniquely American institution, which has been a great strength of our nation from its very beginnings."
Thrilled? Judge Judith needs to get out more.
Today the postage clerk at the Flemington post office told me that she thought “more people will respect jury duty, now that it has its own stamp, and not try to duck their obligation”. Good thought; most people I know certainly do get their moral and ethical motivation from postage stamps.
The stamp itself pictures twelve of your “peers” ---of all colors of the rainbow. Maybe, just maybe, one of the jurors is named Roy G. Biv.
There are orange and purple jurors. There are three jurors who are three different shades of green and two different shades of blue. All in all, the jurors look like they have food poisoning, and turned different colors as they got sicker and sicker.
Now, I think that the jury system is a very important constitutional right.
And a vital part of American history. Ever since the Magna Carta promised “no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land,” the jury system has proven to be a very cool institution.
But a stamp? Maybe I am too cynical.
It’s such a slippery slope, though ---stamps commemorating societal obligations.
What’s next a stamp honoring “Cross at the green, not in between”---maybe with the green guy from the jury duty stamp crossing a street safely.
Or an airmail package with a “No Spitting” themed stamp.
For New Jersey, perhaps a stamp with the purple guy paying a toll or the orange lady laying out on the Jersey Shore listening to Springsteen.
It could happen.