Ashland's boots need some charm

Ah, the good old dine-and-dash and the 10-finger-discount, the favored coupons of the young, are on the rise again in Ashland as it would appear from a recent Daily Tidings article. Ashland seems to be at the beginning of the unapproved discount season that comes with the re-opening of the Shakespeare Festival.

I, myself, have never stolen anything. Of course there is the occasional instance of forgetting to close out my tab, but since those lovely bartenders already have my card they're more than willing to do that for me. I also once came home from the grocery store with someone else's soda included in my bag, but I think of that more as an unexpected bonus than true thievery.

But then, I'm a local, and by the gist of the recent article it would appear that tourists (and young people) are the only ones under suspicion. Thank goodness — now I only have to worry about my car getting booted.

Booting cars is probably the answer to all of Ashland's summer-season problems. When tourists arrive in Ashland, we should just boot their car the moment they turn off their ignition. That way no one can leave until we're sure that all their meals taxes, parking tickets and hotels bills are paid in full. Not only would this be a proactive step against the robbery of helpless downtown businesses, but it would be environmentally friendly, as well. Hoards of tourists would simply walk from place to place. It would be very quaint, and I'm sure we'd quickly be featured in news items across the country. Now, if only naked locals could wander among them, that would really bring us the press coverage our town has been craving so badly. Oh please, Fox News, please come back.

I've been watching a lot of "Parking Wars" lately. A show that follows the "kinder, gentler parking authority" of Philadelphia. I could watch that show all night long (and in fact, recently did just that). There is something endlessly amusing to watching people get their car booted for unpaid parking tickets. This is just one reason we should all be glad that the city of Ashland will begin doing the same thing. Instead of sitting at home, alone on my couch eating pickles while watching TV, I could get the same level of entertainment sitting on a bench in the plaza.

Some people worry that booting cars will give the city an unsavory appearance. Well, utility boxes downtown weren't particularly attractive, but we solved that problem! Getting locals artists to paint the utility boxes was an excellent opportunity to showcase local art and clean up the look of those unsightly grey metal cubes. Boots can be treated exactly the same way. We can paint them with swans (of course we might want to add a couple to the pond again if we're going to go that direction) or Shakespeare flags or even the Bard's face. How lovely would that look: William himself staring back at you from the hubcap of your car? If Art Cars can be in the Fourth of July parade, then certainly Art Boots can be part of our everyday street side décor.

I love that Officer DeSilva walked the shop-lifting teens back to the site of their crime to return the stolen merchandise. I truly believe that a little public humiliation can go a long way in deterring youngsters from a life of crime. That might sound snarky, but I really do mean it. I certainly try my hardest to try to avoid potentially embarrassing situations, and "I will avoid humiliation at all costs" is certainly one of my daily affirmations.

Many things increase in the summer for a tourist town such as ours. We get more people to watch the plays, eat at our restaurants, steal from our shops and accrue parking tickets. These are all problems that can be solved not just with a little imagination, but with some local charm mixed in.

Zoë Abel, who has never had a parking ticket, is not ruling it out for her future. You can contact her at

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