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A close brush with the law

Elizabeth Chicoine

My sister and close friends responded to the following ordeal with a loss for words, followed by: “This could only happen to you!” Then, “Are you kidding me?”

Recently, I went on the up-valley run and realized that I had no gas left in my 10-gallon tank. My little wagon was out of gas. Bothered by my failure to gas-up in a familiar price friendly station in Eagle, I dared to gas-up at the swishy Shell station off of I-70 in Edwards.

I pumped up my little tank with what most locals feel is overpriced gas. I missed the good deal in Eagle and now would ante up at the up-valley pump. I went ahead and filled the tank, not wanting to stop later that day to refill again with my kids in tow. I humbly paid for gas, and went about my day.



Eight minutes or so later, my cell phone rang. My cop husband kindly said, “Honey, I need to talk to you.”

“I’m shifting, can’t talk now,” was my first reply. I have a stick-shift car … great way to save money on cell phone bills.

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“Then pull over, I need to talk to you.”

Long story short … he was on-duty and heard that my little wagon had been accused of, gasp … gas theft! Thank God I hadn’t done the usual with my receipt. You know, moms, we carefully pull that paper from the “pay outside” pump, then either trash it or use it to wrap up a child’s gum.

Low and behold, this time I had my beautiful receipt next to me. Proudly, I must say, I am not a gas thief.



Of course, this all was unwinding during that one nano-second of time in what feels like an eternity that I was doing something purely indulgent, only for myself. I was going to get my hair cut in Eagle-Vail. The big dilemma for me was, “Are you kidding me? I have an appointment in 10 minutes!”

Just as soap operas leave suspense in the air, I’ll leave you hanging on what I decided to do regarding my reclamation of innocence. But, be content in knowing that my hair looks pretty darn good tonight!

I think that my mother was most upset with the accusation. I went to her house after it all happened and shared the rattling event. I saw her face grow pale, and wished I’d never told her. The adage, “Once a mom, always a mom,” was encrypted on her face. I should have known better than to trust that she would leave this one alone. “Mom,” I sternly said, “Let this go. I am fine.”

Well, as I am learning, even my mom has a threshold. Can you imagine? I am almost 40 and my mom went over to that gas station just plain appalled! That poor manager! Don’t get Mother Bear mad.

As we all leave winter’s hibernation, my lesson of summer is tried and true. Save your receipts if you pay at the pump. And as weird as it sounds, someone inside may be watching you. I was described by someone. Yuck! To be very frank, I do feel violated. I did absolutely nothing wrong, and was accused of a serious crime. Thank heaven I had my receipt.

And yes, I am left with the thought of “why me?” I very plainly paid for my gas. In my paranoia, I wondered to myself, “does that pink fleece I was wearing from The Gap look criminal?” And the worst of it all is that my sweet daughter was with me! Mommy Felon? What an interesting new column that would be.

Good Lord … thank my lucky stars that this is still a nice valley. We are innocent here until proven guilty. Alleluia!

And by the way, to the deputies on duty … thank you. I think moms forget how lucky we are to have you out there every day protecting and helping us. Until I was a cop’s wife, I never understood what you all did each day. From this mom, to all of our local law enforcement people, a heartfelt word of appreciation goes out to you. VT

” Elizabeth Chicoine writes about matters of the family for The Vail Trail. She can be reached for comment at echicoine@centurytel.net.


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