Call a cop? Naaah.
I'll call the garbageman

JOHN MAHONEY

I saw my police protection last week. He whipped by at 50 mph, looking neither right nor left. He was in my line of vision approximately 4.7 seconds. I calculate that fleeting moment of security cost me $60.

I expect two more protection events this year, at $60 a pop.

The next will occur on a fine day after mud season ends and our gravel roads have dried out, been graded, and an anti-dust layer of liquid calcium chloride applied. He'll delay his visit, our cop-in-a-speeding-car, because he won't want to wash his vehicle for such a brief encounter.

And on some spectacular autumn afternoon, when the foliage colors are most intense and the sky an enamel blue dotted with puffy white clouds, he'll make his final run through our rural neighborhood. Slowly then, even sedately, but no less expensively.

The Tiny Brains in Quebec's separatist government -- not the government of all Quebecers, and certainly not my government -- have decreed that rural towns pay for protection by the provincial police.

The Tiny Brains saw an untapped source of wealth in the country -- people's homes. "Ah ha," they said. "We'll reform the system, give the town's more authority. This will reduce the cost of government services."

So now country folks get to pay for lack of police protection based on the size of the homes and how much land they own. The bigger the house, the larger the lot, the more we pay.

Our assessment doubled, to more than $180. One of my neighbors got a bill for almost $500.

This is computed by a sophisticated formula developed by a leading Tiny Brain in the Shaft the Peasants Ministry: security = total square footage times resident density plus highest possible neighborhood highway speed divided by the square root of the furthest distance from the nearest restaurant. Then triple the result, for good measure.

Of course, we don't get any more protection -- the cop-in-the-speeding car goes just as fast and just as seldom past a big place as a small place.

One good thing, they don't speed in town where they spend more time. This I know because I often see their cruisers parked in front of the Greek restaurant, just this side of the Tomifobia River on the Quebec/Vermont border.

But, in the realm of the Tiny Brains this is only logical and normal.

However, I will not just sit and bitch about the Tiny Brains and their Tiny Brain schemes. No, I will offer not only constructive criticism but also a creative solution.

I urge the Tiny Brains to transfer security functions to the garbageman.

The garbageman, unlike the policeman, comes every week for a price we can afford -- $55 a year in our rural township , a flate rate for everyone. And he picks up after himself. I've never seen a garbageman toss a Twinkie wrapper onto the road.

Chances are excellent that you'll never be shot by mistake by the garbageman, and he'll never give you a speeding ticket or harass you for going too slow. No, the garbageman will never intimidate you -- he's today's unsung hero.

The garbageman, however, does have one trait in common with the policeman: the stuff he's involved with usually gets covered over.


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