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What if ticket meant eternal damnation? (11/19/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

My sister drove me downtown the other day. It was a few days after I saw a cartoon depicting the Pearly Gates, people lined up at St. Peter's desk to get into heaven, and over a loudspeaker a voice says, "There's a green Chevy with its lights on in the parking lot, license number""

In life here on earth, on Third Street, we tried to find a parking spot, and it should have been easy. But a van had parked straddling two spaces, a fact that should have been clear to the person parking the car. That one driver then threw off the entire block-long parking scheme carefully delineated by city crews at least twice a year, and we and anyone else who wanted to park were out of luck. Don't they know you can get a ticket for parking over the lines?

It started me thinking. What if getting into heaven were based on how a person drove his car?

Do you think people would try harder at four-way stops to help traffic move along at a better clip? Would they move out into the intersection in anticipation of a left turn so that the drivers behind them might have a chance to make it through the light? Do you think folks would dawdle along under the speed limit in the left lane? Would they speed? Would they careen along the street like slalom skiers, all the while chatting away on their cell phones?

Just think of it, if the parking enforcement officer had come along and slipped a ticket under that Third Street van's windshield wiper for taking up two parking spaces, it would be akin to putting him in stocks in front of the Courthouse with a red "PA" (Parking Abuser) emblazoned on his chest. That blaze orange piece of paper on the windshield for an alternate side parking violation would scream out to friends, neighbors and any stranger who happened along that the driver of that car was a SINNER.

My son-in-law from Chicago remarked that living in Winona would be nearly Nirvana, except for the way people drive. My sister, who is used to driving in Boston traffic, is driven to distraction by the drivers on Winona streets who mosey along in their cars as though they were on a stroll in the woods far from humanity, ignoring the lines of cars and their baffled drivers trailing them down the street.

A while back, some wag dubbed these drivers (although he was referring specifically to minivan drivers) the "anti-destination league." I wish I'd thought of that.

Instead, I think I will have some bumper stickers printed up that say "How Would Jesus Drive?" 


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