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Of Spotsy, the queen, and a pair of pants

May 20, 2007 12:36 am

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Queen Elizabeth II was a big hit with the Yanks as she toured Jamestown this month--but why?

YOU'RE probably aware of the lawyer who is suing a Washington dry cleaner for $65 million because it lost the pants that went with his $1,000 suit. The pants were located a week later, but he is pressing his case anyway, and has turned down settlement offers for up to $12,000.

Information churned up by the bizarre case has painted the guy, who is also an administrative law judge, as a nasty, overbearing, my-way-or-the-highway sort of fellow. He not only knows the public views him as a complete jerk, but he's just the type who would relish such attention.

The remaining question is this: Why? Why is he pursuing this and ruining the lives of the hard-working Korean immigrant couple who own the business?

Because they had two signs posted in the shop--"Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service"--and the lawyer believes, because his pants were misplaced, that those claims constitute fraud under D.C. consumer law.

I think I'm with the majority when I wish he could be bound to a post in the town square in one of his $1,000 suits and pummeled with rotten tomatoes and eggs. But he will get his day in court, and the court must take this case as seriously as it would any other.

While it takes a special person to make the case he's making, who among us hasn't been done dirty by a store, company, or product, and felt dissatisfied, frustrated and ripped off?

This happens to me way more often than it should, even when I pay extra in the misguided expectation that I'm more likely to achieve satisfaction. I am committed now to telling companies what I think--both good and bad--but most certainly when I'm annoyed to the point of incredulity. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they don't. In any case, simply expressing my concern has a cathartic effect, and I highly recommend the practice--even when it involves your friendly local newspaper.

Speaking of being incredulous, how about that media frenzy over the visit of Queen Elizabeth II? I try to imagine that there is some quaint, fairytale aspect to the monarchy, but to me the royal family is an ode to dysfunction, an anachronism, and does little to earn its keep--its really expensive keep. Overall I give it a big "Who cares?"

I checked out a few blogs about the royal visit to see what some opinionated types were saying about it. Some people seem so enamored with the bluebloods that they probably seek out toads to kiss in search of the perfect mate.

But I thought this entry offered a succinct, if rather coarse, opposing view:

"I hate the royals they are pointless dated idiots what the point in them, thousands of years ago they ran the country now they sponge from the country and look down their noses at the common people who pay for them to do so"

Can't you just feel the outrage? And punctuation is so overrated anyway.

Sometimes eye-opening events are more gradual than startling. I have lived in Spotsylvania County for the past 18 years, but learning about it is an ongoing experience.

Work often takes me along roads I've not traveled before, and as my kids grow up, their athletic pursuits and other activities are taking them to the farthest reaches of the county. Of course it is up to their parents to get them there. Quick: What's the best way to get from Lee Hill Park off U.S. 17 to Ni River Middle School?

Spotsylvania is a huge county and still beautiful--except where it isn't. While growth and progress are healthy and expected, it's important for leaders and residents alike to to insist that goodly portions of its rural character be retained.

Not only that, but those far-flung areas deserve to have their roads, parks, and other facilities maintained just as well as those in more populous areas closer to Fredericksburg.

Many of the residents of these areas represent families that go back generations in Spotsylvania--precisely those who are paying the price in taxes for growth they didn't bargain for.

Chewning Park, which might be kindly described as "way out there" on Post Oak Road, has a couple of ball fields that, with just a little attention, would be decent places to play. A gap under a backstop at one, and a poison-ivy-covered hillside that's a foul-ball magnet on the other, take a heavy toll on the fun.

Our route of choice to Chewning Park takes us along Robert E. Lee Drive and Pamunkey Road, among other county byways, and portions of those are in serious need of repair and resurfacing. Along one narrow, twisty stretch is a roadside memorial, drawing attention to a life lost.

The merging of rural and suburban is often a recipe for danger. Too much traffic on roads ill-equipped to handle it is a Spotsylvania specialty. It's a recurring issue in several surrounding counties. The key is to make sure problem spots get the timely attention they need.

Why it has taken so long to build a Spotsylvania Courthouse bypass, for example, is among the great mysteries of life.

Richard Amrhine is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.





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