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Quick with ticket book

Kaye Ferry

I want to tell you a little story about something that happened to me this weekend. And it doesn’t start with once upon a time, because it’s true.I had some friends visiting this weekend. It was one of those fun things because it was a young man who had lived with me for the season five years ago. He was one of two young Australian racers who came here to train with Ski Club Vail for the winter. In these past years, he has grown up and moved along, the kind of thing that’s fun to watch. He married an American girl and they lived in Sydney for four years. But when they had their baby, his wife decided she’d like to be closer to her family for awhile, so they moved to Wisconsin a few months ago.Coming to Vail this weekend was their first big family vacation. They arrived at DIA and rented a car and drove up Saturday morning. I was in the midst of doing some work, so they decided to go in to town and look around and wallow in a bit of nostalgia, as they had met here five years ago this weekend.From my house, I could actually see the cars parked on the Frontage Road, so I said I’d drive them in and they would walk back with the baby in the stroller.Since their car was already equipped with a car seat, I drove them in their rental. Little did I know the unfriendly experience I was about to encounter.I pulled in on Hanson Ranch Road at 12:07 p.m. As I relate the rest of the story, you’ll know why I can be so exact.Near the corner of the Mill Creek Building, I stopped to let my three passengers out. My friend, the husband and father of this young family, barely had his feet touch the ground when we were approached by one of Vail’s finest. This officer in blue was there so quickly that the young father hadn’t closed his door, nor had the mother even opened hers. As for me, I didn’t even have time to get the car in park.But nonetheless, the flashing yellow light was on and directions were being given for me to pull over against the building wall. At first I didn’t get what he was saying, so I replied, “No thanks, I don’t need to park, I’ll only be here a minute.” So he said it again. And again it went right over my head. I was then promptly told that I in fact did need to park while he wrote me a ticket. “For what?” I asked. “Can’t you read the sign?” he inquired. I looked and of course the “no stopping or skier drop-off” sign was sitting there. So without question, the guy was doing his job. But there’s a big difference between applying the law and applying the intent of the law. The intent of that law is to prevent congestion during the busy morning and afternoon hours along Hanson Ranch Road when everybody and their brother is trying to find a way to drop off and pick up skiers with all of their gear at some place relatively close to the lifts.No question about it, the sign was there and I was stopped. Furthermore, I didn’t know the enforcer nor did he know me, which only adds to the story, in my mind. I mention it only because the fact that he didn’t know me, combined with the Texas plates on the rental car, gave him every reason to believe I was an out-of-town guest. So I guess the question that comes to mind most strongly is this how we want to treat our guests? Oh sure, the rule is the rule. But come on. It was noon. No other traffic was in sight. Do we enforce these issues simply because we can, or is there supposed to be a point to it all? And make no mistake. He did not write a warning. Oh no. He wrote a full $26 ticket at 12:08. No questions asked. No attempt at polite conversation. No “Please don’t park there, ma’am.” No “Move down the hill a little farther and you’re OK.” No “Be sure not to do it tomorrow and I’ll let it go.” Huh, uh. That ticket pad came out so fast it seemed like the Wild West and the trigger happy new gun in town looking for his notches.It’s not about whining because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. And it’s certainly not about the $26, which I am personally sending directly to the chief. It’s about customer service and creating an environment that causes our guest to want to return. There was a time when all of the police officers attended Turn It Up! Perhaps they should do so again. They would learn that this is a tourist-driven economy and our job is to create the “intent to return.” If we create an unpleasant experience, none of us will have jobs, including them, because no one will want to come back. The job of the police in any community is to provide for public safety. If that is not in jeopardy, they need to find a better way to deal with our guest. Keep in mind that he had no reason to believe that I was not one. I paid the ticket myself, even though it was issued to my guests’ car. But I think I’ll send Officer Moriarity some of those “Vail Loves You” stickers that he can hand out instead of being so quick with the ticket book.Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry. Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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