Armed Robbery
August 20th, 2010

Considering the vast number of homicidal thoughts I entertain on a daily basis, it’s amazing how infrequently I run afoul of the law. Why just recently I received my first speeding ticket EVER.

I’m not counting the one I got thirty-five years ago in Mountain View, Wyoming, because that one was settled out of court and didn’t go onto my permanent record. Turns out the cop who pulled me over is also the justice of the peace. He decided on the spot that the thirty bucks I happened to have in my wallet at the time was adequate punishment. So I handed it over and that was that.

Was I actually speeding? Let’s put it this way: I was driving a 1973 VW bus in a part of the country where extended cab, 4×4 pickup trucks are pretty much mandatory. So not only was I from out of town, I was from out of state. Cue the red light and siren!

This time around I was behind the wheel of a fifteen-year-old Nissan Pathfinder, wheezing up what looked to me to be a belt route but which evidently is a city street—this according to the officer who was standing in the middle of said “street” with a radar gun in his hand. Turns out I was going a blistering five miles over the posted limit.

This happened in Park City, which is in Summit County—a place that is to traffic enforcement what the Bermuda Triangle is to aviation. By that I mean you don’t have to do anything wrong; all you need to do is go there, and before you know it, you’re in a heap ‘o trouble, boy.

This summer, teen-aged sunbathers have returned from the shore of Echo Reservoir to find their cars have all been towed to an impound lot in Coalville. Anglers at Rockport Reservoir have returned from an hour or two of fishing to discover their cars, too, have mysteriously disappeared. As for Park City, during the first six months of this year, city cops stopped 5,011 motorists. 4,060 were given warnings, while 963 were issued citations. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say it’s a safe bet those drivers issued citations were all from out of town.

What makes me think so? Well, for one thing, the economy of Park City is heavily dependent on tourism, which is a nice way of saying it’s all about extracting as much money as possible from the pocketbooks of people who don’t live there. And what better way to extract money from the pocketbooks of visitors than to set up a speed trap along the road leading to the annual Arts Festival? And, pray tell, what is easier to catch than a sixty-seven-year -old man behind the wheel of a fifteen-year-old Pathfinder?

As I sat there, waiting for the officer to verify that I wasn’t local, I watched in dismay the passing cavalcade of Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Lexuses, Porsches, Range Rovers and Audis. I didn’t feel much like a maverick. No, I felt like a straggling caribou that had been picked off by a wily wolf. It’s worn-out vehicles like mine that need to be culled from the thundering herd!

Honestly, I felt like putting up a big fuss—but what’s the use? I’ve seen enough episodes of COPS to know what comes of “resistance.” Two, three, four burly cops throw you to the ground, smashing your face into the dirt, all the while shouting “Stop resisting!” Then they bang your skull against the roof of a squad car, all the while shouting, “Watch your head!”

So I meekly accepted the ticket, and today I meekly paid the fine. I did not resist. I did the same thing bank tellers and convenience store clerks are advised to do whenever confronted by an armed robber. I handed over the money, went home, poured myself a drink, sat down, and wrote this.

-Richard Menzies