The ins and outs of a Mill St. plaza

Recently, Worcester has experienced one of the most cataclysmic changes we’ve seen in my (admittedly short) lifetime.Nope, it’s not the paywall.

And we won’t be seeing a vote on the pit bull ordinance until September 7.  

No, it’s something that affects far more people in a deeply profound way: the “In” and “Out” signs at the Mill Street plaza that hosts, among other businesses, Savers and Harbor Freight Tools, have finally been reversed.  (Though for old fogeys like me, it’ll always be the “Stop & Shop Plaza.”) 

Until recently, the entry was on the left.

 I say “finally” because the signs were clearly placed by someone who was pining for the United States — or, at the very least, Worcester — to switch to driving on the left side of the road; the “In” was on the left and the “Out” was on the right.  For those of us who’d never been to the plaza — or for those of us who refused to accept its twisted directional logic — there was always that jarring experience of driving into what a normal person would think would be the “In” side, only to find a car barreling at you as your eye wandered to the left and noticed the crooked “Out” side winking at you.

Helpful exit angle for homeward bound space aliens


Well, the plaza signs have now been changed.  I, not immediately realizing that my life had been turned upside down, drove in what had been the right side for a great many years, but is now the wrong side.  What I’d dreamed of for so many years — that the owners of the plaza would see the error of their ways and switch the signs — was now a nightmare.   

First, I found the requisite car barreling at me; the driver of that car gave me that “Why can’t you figure out the right side to enter?!?” look so particular to this plaza.  And then, of course, I realized why the plaza had probably been designed that way in the first place. 

View from the Mothership

Now, of course, you have people entering the plaza and proceeding immediately along the little road that lines the shops.  Unfortunately, most drivers are so used to driving down there to get out of the plaza that you have to squeeze carefully by them.  And — of course — you really just want to park, which is why the previous location of the “In” was perfect, as it just brought you to the parking section. So — what once drove me crazy now just drives me even more crazy. 

I had gotten into the habit of entering the plaza via the entrance further down Mill Street, closer to the Sun-N-Sound (which, for me, will always be the Webster Square Cinema), and I may still get back in that habit.  Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem, because you’re still taking your life into your hands trying to get through the In-and-Out traffic.  

What would probably make the most sense at this point would be to re-do the island and move the “In” and “Out” entrances even a bit further towards Rob Roy, so that the “In” would get you to parking spaces. 

And at that point, I’d find something else to hate about this particular plaza.