I had to go down to the courthouse the other day to probate my mother’s Last Will and Testimony. The last time I did this was for my father’s will in 1995.
I can only assume that Probate Court is one of those places where cities can cut back on staff and resources and nobody complains. Why? Because in in 1995 the Probate Clerk’s office was a busy hive of eight or ten people. Back then I breezed into the office without any notice, got my business taken care and was back out in just a few minutes. It was also free.
Since 1995 they’ve changed the process enough that 1) an appointment is required, 2) I had to pay a total of $48 to probate a will that had essentially no assets and 3) I saw just two people in the department, and one of them was even borrowed temporarily from another department.
But none of that really matters. What really matters is what I observed while waiting in the Probate Clerk’s office. I would show it to you; I’m not sure you’d believe me otherwise. But as you may know, no electronic equipment, camera, cell phone or any kind of mechanical recording device is allowed inside the courthouse.
You’d expect a court clerk’s office to be a pretty dull public place. But nothing could have been further from the truth at the Probate Clerk’s office. Let me clarify that. The office no doubt started out looking institutional. But under current management it’s anything but.
To make my point, here’s a partial inventory of what I saw while waiting. (Fortunately, pencil and paper are not prohibited recording devices.)
A sign proclaiming “PEACE, LOVE AND JOY!”
Framed pictures of birds.
Paper cut-outs of angels and fairies.
Another sign: “BUTTERFLY KISSES AND DANDELION WISHES.”
Cherubs. Lots of cherubs.
A paper chandelier with glass “diamonds”
Silhouettes of trees stenciled on every wall.
Birds. Ceramic, metallic, paper, paper maché, fabric, glass, stone, velvet and plastic. Hanging from the ceiling, perched on office equipment and peeking down from overhead light fixtures.
Butterflies. Also ceramic, metallic, paper, paper mache, fabric, glass, velvet and plastic. Also hanging from the ceiling, perched on office equipment and peeking down from overhead light fixtures.
Plastic bobble heads of flowers, baseball players, cherubic toddlers, extra terrestrials, dancing ducks and more birds.
Paperweights. Who knew decoupage was still big?
A lavishly seascaped, but goldfish-less, goldfish bowl.
Paper, metallic and glass stick-on appliques in stars, starburst and bird shapes.
Pigs. Ceramic, paper, steel, stone and stuffed fabric.
Snow globes, not a one celebrating a winter scene.
A calendar from February 2010 with a photograph of sunflowers.
Another sign: “The day you were born the world had to make room for a little more fancy.”
Another sign: “Drama Queen.”
Sequin-covered computer keyboard and mouse.
Ornate Victorian Christmas scenes.
Another sign: “God made us sisters. Prozac made us friends.”
Another sign: “Some days are a total waste of makeup.”