Going bananas in the new Worcester Courthouse!

By Jack Hoffman

Recently, I had to travel to Worcester to retrieve some probated documents. I thought it might be a great opportunity to see the new Courthouse, since it’s been awhile since I visited the old place down at Lincoln Square. And I could save a little on the legal bills.

I was told in advance I could park at the Centrum Parking lot – sorry, you know it’s been a long time. It’s now the DCU.

As I drove my van into the parking lot, I noticed a sign that meant some clear and present danger ahead – the ceiling allowed a height of 6′ 8.” My van just barely cleared it. Now where can I park, as I began to ascend the ramp, one after another, floor after floor? It seemed that on each floor one side was completely filled with vehicles, while the other side had reserved parking and a roped in area for some reason. Four flights up the story was the same. To Hell with this! I’ll just slowly go down and park across the street at the Honey Farm Store. That’s not without a slight scrape on the van’s roof-top as I exited the garage. “Oh, ya,” said a garage attendant, “$7 bucks, Mister.” Hey, this is Worcester! Why so much. It’s almost nothing in the garage? “Mister, just go across from the Court House. It’s $10 if you don’t want to pay $7.” I just need 30 minutes. “Do you know what you would pay in Boston”? “I’m sorry company policy.” Since when do you equate Worcester to Boston?

Hell, I gave him his lousy $7 and walked into the new Courthouse, through the security check point, not before dumping everything into those Wal Mart nickel trays. Multi-million dollar Courthouse and flimsy nickel trays! The sensing machine goes off, and as usual I get that magic wand treatment. Somehow I get the feeling I must be on a no entrance list every time I go through one of those machines.

After several inquires as to the exact location and two trips up and down the stairs, waiting in a line for twenty minutes, and realizing it’s the wrong department, I make my way through the maze of c r o w d s waiting to have their cases heard and continue on my journey to the Probate Records Room. I finally make it to the basement where I will admit the counter folks were professional and courteous. “Sorry, Jack, I can’t find the file you want.” Wait a minute! I have a copy of one of the documents from that file! “Well, let’s try another folder.” We located one file but not the important one. I figured I take the bird in hand. Did an about face and headed for the copy machine only to find out it costs 50 cents per copy. Now here is where the real fun begins. The machine will only accept a $5 bill. The problem was I only had four $1 bills and 4 quarters. I asked someone if they had a $5 bill – no “we cant give any change.” I’m not changing – I want to exchange. “No change – sorry, sir.” I headed up to the cashier’s office to get a $5 bill. Same response. “No change in the Court House.” Called over a security guard for help, that’s after I might have asked six other visitors for change. It seems everyone gets kind of paranoid in a courthouse, if a stranger approaches. I ask the guard:To whom do I complain? “Sorry, sir.” Don’t you just love the “sir” when you are about to have a fit?! Thank goodness I took a Lexipro that morning – I’m starting to wish I had taken two. Can’t imagine what would happen, if I hadn’t taken one. The guard advises me there is not a single person I can complain to here in the Court House. I would have to contact Boston, the home of the Massachusetts Courts. “Listen, when we need to shovel snow – we need Boston’s permission.” He suggests going across to the luncheonette and getting the change.

This time I wanted to be prepared, so I ask the counter girl if she could change a fifty to include some $5 bills. “No problem.” I felt guilty. I wasn’t buying anything, so I looked around, grabbed a banana. She said, “$1.39.” I know, I should go to Boston and try to buy a banana and see what it would cost me! I explained my frustrating day, including the mileage and cost of gas, blah blah blah. She was an angel. “Have a banana on me,” she said.

Thanks, Lisa, for making my day less … “fruitless”! By the way, the name is Jack.