Wearing a dress and a bonnet, Trudy, a skeleton who works the front desk of the Snohomish County District Court office, types as her creator Jewel Shrout (upper left) works on Friday, March 24. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Wearing a dress and a bonnet, Trudy, a skeleton who works the front desk of the Snohomish County District Court office, types as her creator Jewel Shrout (upper left) works on Friday, March 24. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Dressed up skeleton is dead ringer for courthouse employee

EVERETT — The “Employee of the Year” at the courthouse gives some people a fright.

Others get a laugh.

What’s up with that?

It’s Trevor/Trudy, a he-she skeleton who sits at the front desk behind the glass partition at the Snohomish County District Court office.

Right now she’s Trudy, dressed in a frilly spring dress and bonnet. Other times he’s Trevor, wearing thrift shop suits tailored with binder clips and safety pins to fit his skinny physique.

This office on the third floor is where people go for traffic fines, small claims and some misdemeanors.

It’s not always the happiest place. The fake worker with the real name tag lightens up the mood.

County employee Jewel Shrout, 26, created Trevor to sit in the empty chair next to her last October for Halloween. She bought the life-sized skeleton at Home Depot for $25 and dressed him in a shirt and tie.

“People had a lot of fun with him, so I asked if he could stay up past Halloween,” Shrout said.

Permission was granted.

“It’s a way for us to bring a smile to people here for such serious issues,” said Lauren Bjurstrom, district court administration director.

Shrout said it “diffuses a lot of tension on the opposite side of the glass.”

“About 50 percent of the time people aren’t super happy,” she said. “Or they might come in happy and you have news they don’t like to hear. Or fines they don’t know about. Or warrants they don’t know about. Or that they have to pay $100 at DOL to get their license back. It kind of makes them stop for a second. It changes the frame of mind a little bit; it has helped in that aspect.”

It also helps the public feel at ease with the flesh-and-blood workers.

“I don’t think a lot of people think we are human up here,” Shrout said. “We’re not there to penalize them. We have no power to do anything. We just process paperwork. A paper pusher is essentially what we do.”

A government office with a sense of humor? Yes, please. #liveineverett #everettwa

A post shared by Elizabeth Person (@elizabeth_person) on

Shrout and another worker are stationed at the front window. Trevor/Trudy is in the middle, posed to serve — with an Employee of the Year certificate to prove it.

“Most walk up and look up and realize, ‘Nope, doesn’t work,’ ” she said. “One person laughed for three minutes.”

A few have needed intervention.

“He was in normal clothes and glasses and someone did walk up and just started talking to him,” Shrout said. “I said, ‘No, you need to come over here,’ and he kept going on. So I said, ‘It’s not a real person.’ And he’s like, ‘I am a real person.’ I said, ‘I know. I get that. But he’s not. You need to come one more down.’ ”

The skeleton was Mrs. Claus for Christmas. Then it was Trevor again. Now it’s Trudy for Easter. Who knows what’s next?

“It’s fun to go to the thrift store to see what ridiculous things I can find,” Shrout said.

She said she chose the names Trevor and Trudy at random. They bear no resemblance to any skeletons she may have in her closet. Not that she has any.

Shrout’s family owns Fanny’s Restaurant in Marysville. She graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Spanish and Japanese, then cleaned city buses when she went back to school to get a paralegal degree. She started working for the county last May.

Kamal Abou-Zaki, an Oregon court interpreter, got a kick out of Trudy on a recent visit to the office.

“I walked in and went straight to that window and I was surprised,” he said.

Trudy also has a social media following. “A government worker with a sense of humor? Yes, please,” is the caption under a recent Instagram post.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Life

Most of the rooms boast views of Lake Stevens and the Cascade Range. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Victorian home puzzle inspired this Lake Stevens mansion

The 10,490-square-foot Mansion Inn is a massive secret that’s perfect for a mini getaway.

Caption: The years come and go, but some birthdays warrant extra reflection. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Milestone birthdays make parents ask: where did the time go?

From cake frosting in their hair to the car keys in their hands, it all goes by so fast.

Frankfurt's Romerberg Square looks old, but the half-timbered buildings were rebuilt in 1983, four decades after bombs destroyed the originals during World War II.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Experience modern Germany in Frankfurt

For years, Frankfurt was a city to avoid, but today, its no-nonsense energy makes it worth a look.

Budget charges $250 for calibrating a camera. Is that legit?

Budget sends Tony Parise a $250 bill for recalibrating a camera on the windshield of his rental car. But he says nothing happened to it. Does he still have to pay?

2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV (Honda)
2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV

If you are the adventurer type, the 2023 Honda Pilot AWD TrailSport SUV is right up your alley.

Featuring original band members Steve Fossen and Michael Derosier, Heart By Heart will perform Saturday night in Everett. (Steve Spatafore)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

MUSIC “No Quarter”: Led Zeppelin tribute by local band Colossal Boss. 7:30… Continue reading

This midcentury Windsor style chair features the crest and colors of Harvard University. It sold for $438, more than twice its estimate, at a Bonhams Skinner auction.
This chair brings together two icons of colonial America

This Harvard University Windsor chair is just one of many variations on so-called stick furniture.

Home & Garden Briefly: Arboretum to host ‘poetry in the trees’ exhibit

Arboretum to host ‘poetry in the trees’ exhibit In honor of National… Continue reading

Bold graphics on the 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R body side are optional. (Ford)
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor R is a big sandbox toy for grownups

The Raptor, previous king of capability, is now the ‘regular’ Raptor, dethroned by this new arrival.

Steve Klein moves some of his glasswork into place as fellow guest curator Meg Holgate watches during installation of A Precarious Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Exhibits shine light on natural beauty on the edge of loss

Artists worried about climate change work ‘for future generations’

The best Italian food in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

In this side-by-side image, the Totem Diner and Pacific Stone Company signs put on a flirty display for all to see Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Signs of love on Rucker Ave: blushing rocks, scrambled eggs, a coffee date

Messages on display on Totem Family Diner and Pacific Stone Co. signs reveal “secret crushes.” More updates expected.