I had the displeasure yesterday of spending quite some time in a court with about the most hostile staff around. As soon as I made it past the security guard, who was pretty friendly, I got nothing but scowls from the various clerks, who seemed to react to me with either anger that I dare interrupt their important work with my presence or concern that I might inconvenience them by asking them to do something for me. You’d think I was showing up to fire them or unleash some sort of horrible unpleasantness on the office.
Lucky for them, I didn’t need any help prior to my hearing. They stopped glowering at me and returned to work as soon as I walked past their little area and into the prosecutor’s office. After court, however, I needed a copy of an order.
I approached the counter and stood there waiting for someone to assist me. I looked out over no fewer than a dozen cubicles, each of which contained a man or woman furiously focused on a computer screen while typing. Occasionally, someone would glance my way and quickly turn back, trying to cover up the fact they saw me. I could see the whites of many of their eyes. They were doing everything in their power to ignore me.
As I stood there, seconds turned to minutes. I saw the order I needed sitting in the tray on the copier. More minutes passed. I tried an “excuse me,” but to no avail. It only strengthened their resolve to remain fixated on their computer screens. I observed a little bell to ring for service, but it was placed just a little too far for even the longest-armed humans on the public side of the counter to reach. More minutes passed.
Finally, it struck me. On the walls were three prominently-displayed “cell phone use prohibited” signs varying from in size from gigantic to ridiculously gigantic. I removed my cell phone from my pocket, dialed the number for my voicemail, and put it up to my ear.
Instantly, a woman with angular glasses and big hair shot up from her seat and rushed toward me shaking her finger. I immediately pulled the phone from my ear, hung up, and politely asked her to grab the order on the copier. She looked at me with an expression of contempt, which turned to one of sadness and then eventually one of resignation. I probably looked pretty smug as she handed me the order and waddled back to her cubicle with a defeated look on her face.