Don’t Bother Calling

     Here’s an interesting hypothetical: Imagine you need to know something – something not terribly important – about the courthouse in Pomona, California.
     How do you get the answer to your question?
     I bet you think you know the answer.
     I bet your answer is wrong.
     I know this because I needed a tiny bit of information about the Pomona courthouse — whether it was open — the other day. The answer wasn’t obvious because the building was shut down the day before due to a power outage.
     So before making a 45-minute drive to Pomona, I thought I ought to make sure the place was open.
     I did what I’m guessing is what a lot of you would have done – I got the Pomona court’s phone number from the L. A. Superior Court website and I called it.
     Just in case you don’t believe what I’m about to tell you next, here’s the phone number: (909) 620-3006.
     The phone rang. A recorded voice answered. This is what it said:
     “You have reached the Los Angeles Superior Court East District Pomona Court office.
     “Please do not leave a message as messages are not retrievable on this line.
     “Thank you and have a nice day.”
     In other words: “We’re not telling you anything and don’t even think about asking a question.”
     By the way, I made the drive anyway and the court was indeed open. So that message wasn’t there because the place was shut down.
     This brings up many fascinating questions.
     For example, what is the purpose of this telephone number? Why display it on the court’s website?
     I guess there’s some satisfaction in knowing you’ve reached the Pomona courthouse – all that button-pushing did achieve a result – but there’s something lacking in a conversation when no one appears to hear what you’re saying. I’ve had talks like this with trees and assorted pets and that can be nice, but you don’t get many answers or laughs in those conversations.
     It must be something akin to what my wife goes through after she claims to have told me something at length.
     Perhaps the court is attempting to drive us mad, but we don’t need the court for that.
     And then there’s the part about the messages being “not retrievable.” How could this be?
     Has answering machine technology not made its way to Pomona? Is there no one in Pomona who knows how to use an answering machine? Or are they lying and simply refusing to do the retrieving?
     My own theory is that the court is simply following the law. After all, answering any questions from someone likely to use the courthouse could be construed as practicing law without a license. Anyone who has frequented a clerk’s office knows how seriously court employees take this policy.
     If you really need to know if a court is open, contact your local Legal Aid office or hire an attorney.
     Finally, why wish us a nice day when, clearly, after hearing that message, we’re not going to be in a good mood?
     I detect a hint of irony.
     Someone is having a bit of fun.
     By the way, I considered calling some other courts to see if they had similar messages, but I chickened out. I didn’t want to be driven any madder than I already am.
     Let us know if you try it.

%d bloggers like this: