Opinion: No time to get better with age


I recently read that an 85-year-old man was fumbling through his drawers (which is a funny image, right there) and found a $1 parking ticket fine he had gotten almost 70 years ago and forgot to pay.

Henry must have sharp financial sense. He knew that someday he’d be 85 and if he conveniently misplaced the summons, he could pay it 60 years later when a buck would be a mere pittance — and maybe he could pick up a little positive press for seniors at the same time.

I also forgot to pay a parking fine, right before we left for a vacation. It was a legitimate oversight. I had put the ticket in my back pants pocket, then went home, threw the pants in the Maytag, and that’s the last I remembered seeing it. It was washed completely from my mind.

When we returned from our trip, I received a note from the city saying my fine had doubled because of failure to pay. I was relieved because I had heard if you are delinquent on paying tickets, they can even take away your car. Who knows what they take away if you don’t pay a jaywalking ticket?

I’m a senior. Not quite as senior as Henry, but I think I’ve entered that period of life when some of my oversights would no longer be considered punishable. Some would even say they are charming.

I decided to pursue this and made the call to the Traffic Violation Bureau.

“Hello, I have a question. I’m curious whether you have heard about this Henry, the senior citizen who didn’t pay his parking ticket for almost 70 years?”

“Yes, of course. What an uplifting, touching story about the inner goodness of human beings. His honesty is so heartwarming. Who is this, anyway?”

“My name is Dick Wolfsie, and I …”

“Yes, Mr. Wolfsie, we have your records. Disgraceful, contemptible — criminal, even.”

“I don’t get it. This guy doesn’t pay his ticket for six decades and he’s a hero. I skip a few weeks and you double my fine? You called his story heartwarming.”

“How old are you, Mr. Wolfsie?”

“I just turned 76.”

“I’m afraid you don’t have enough time left to make your story heartwarming.”

“Look, I still don’t understand why you are punishing me after two months, and it sounds like you have his photo on your bulletin board.”

“Oh, your picture is up there, too.”

I’m thinking about heading to my hometown in a couple of months and taking back an old library book I forgot to return in 1980. Of course, if I do return it now, they’ll charge me big time and call me a thief. But if I could stay alive for 30 more years, they’d think I’m downright adorable.