I want this off my conscience

From Calumet, Mich., comes word that the police don't expect to spend any more time on the case of the scofflaw whose car was ticketed for staying too long in a metered parking space. For one thing, no one (from Chief David Outinen on down) apparently knows who the guilty party is – only that the car in question was a Buick. For another, the fine finally has been paid. Finally? Well, yes, after having been on the books since Sept. 1 ... 1976.

In the department's mail one day recently was a plain white envelope with some handwritten lines on a sheet of paper inside. "I always had good intentions of paying it," the note read, in part. "Now, I think, it's time." Accompanying the note were the ticket and a $20 bill. The fine for this offense: $1. But after 72 hours, it increased to $5. "I can't afford $5 after 31-1/2 years," the note said, apparently assuming there was compound interest, "so I'm sending what I can." Ah, but there was no compound interest.

"It was nice to see," Outinen told reporters, even though "I guess she overpaid." The envelope had no return address, and the note concluded, "Please don't try and track me down." So the chief won't be sending back her $15 in change. As for all those years of failing to make good, she needn't have worried. "We usually don't do anything until someone gets several [unpaid tickets]," Outinen said. "And then we ... send out a notice."

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