The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

August 31, 2013

MICHELE M. BENDER | Geezer justice rules

— My car, Bailey Bender (a PT Cruiser), will celebrate his 10th birthday on Sept. 13. I’ve named almost every car I’ve ever owned.

A month ago, I ran into a new friend, Julie, who shares my enthusiasm for naming vehicles. She was driving her bright yellow Neon, “Bumblebee.”

We met at the stop sign by the cosmetology school when some reckless hit-and-runner plowed into Julie and Bumblebee, whacking them so hard that Bumblebee crashed into Bailey. “Speedy” assessed the situation for all of 10 seconds, then roared away, passing us on the wrong side in the parking lot.

Although I had my seatbelt on, my head struck the windshield. Details slowly became clear, despite the fact that I’d just been up close and personal with safety glass.

Julie kept asking, “Are you OK? Did you see him?”

The answers were both yes and, loopy as I was, I could see a huge, colorful seatbelt bruise developing on her shoulder.

Police and medics arrived. They took one look at my swollen E.T. brow (in nifty colors, too), then spotted all the medical equipment in Bailey’s hatch … walker, wheelchair, cane, etc. They squeezed my Avatar forehead into their ambulance and we were gone.

Julie didn’t go to the hospital, but Bumblebee, scrunched into a “banana split,” had to be towed.

At the ER, they tested my blood. It was boiling! They took X-rays. A CAT scan revealed that all my cats were in their proper places, but hissing angrily.

What possesses people? Julie and I spoke a few days later, we agreed that Mr. Speedy probably lacked a license, insurance, registration, or even more.

But he fled, so he can’t be held financially responsible. My insurance and – alas, 20 year-old Julie’s – must pay.

Does that “Hoover,” er whut?

Among my many talents, I speak fluent “Mopar.” (Yes, the Chrysler whisperer!) Bailey confided to me that he has a very sore hiney. But then, to my surprise, he told me what he wants for his 10th birthday. He wants the license number of the medium-sized, gray SUV that “done us wrong.”

Whadaya say, G-Pas and G-Mas? Let’s mobilize our G Force.

When you’re out, casually watch for a medium-sized, charcoal gray SUV. No sliding doors, no signage.

Take no risks. No citizen’s arrests or confrontations. Not a word. Simply try to get a glimpse of the front. If “Mr. Speedy” is as arrogant and cheap as we suspect, there should be front-end damage to the bumper or grill, maybe a broken headlight – and a generous smear of neon yellow paint!

If you suspect you see the vehicle, jot down the license number. Send it to me anonymously at, or in the mail to the Trib. I’ll pass it to authorities.

Worst that can happen? Nothing. Best? Mr. Speedy parts with some cash!

Geezer justice! I love it!

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Columnists
  • Local Columnists

    Robin L. Quillon
    Chip Minemyer
    Tom Lavis
    Mike Mastovich
    Cory Isenberg
    Zachary Hubbard
    Michele Bender
    Bill Eggert


    July 6, 2010

  • Michele Bender MICHELE M. BENDER | Time to can clutter

    I’m “downsizing.” Sixteen years ago, this house was perfect for me. I gave parties. Friends came and stayed for weekends. Great insulation protected visitors from highway noise.
    Yep, I had the time of my life.
    But I’m 16 years older, and my friends are, too.  They no longer travel like they did. Parties wear us out by 10 p.m.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siehl, Jim color JIM SIEHL | Richland student excels in class, on field

    Ben Verhovsek is a humble, soft-spoken young man who by his nature resists all forms of public adulation.

    June 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Music, comedy on tap for pre-Thunder bash

    With Thunder in the Valley right around the corner, organizers are hoping to make this year’s event the best yet and are holding a launch party to get people in the mood for the motorcycle rally.

    May 10, 2014

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Curtis, Shawn SHAWN CURTIS | Pirates win has familiar feel

    As much as all the fuzzy feelings of the 2013 season came to an end when Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fired a first-pitch strike to Emilio Bonifacio at 1:14 p.m. on Monday afternoon at PNC Park, the 1-0 win took the shape that many Pittsburgh wins did a season ago.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eric Knopsnyder ERIC KNOPSNYDER | A fresh take on funnies

    Did you notice some funny business in our comics pages recently?
    Many of you did and contacted the newsroom to ask why “Doonesbury” and “For Better or For Worse” were no longer appearing in our publication.
    There’s a simple explanation: They are no longer being produced.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Basketball officials never win

    Today’s column bounces from local politics to basketball after two previous articles concentrated on Jesse Topper’s successful launch into a new career as a state representative.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Michele Mikesic Bender | Playing the name game

    So, did you decide on the ‘popcorn dress’  for the church dinner?” asked Judi, my Communion Lady.
    “No, I think the ‘hydrangea dress’ might be better,’’ I answered.
    “You name your clothes?” Denise’s jaw dropped.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Bill Eggert | A heartfelt message of thanks

    February is the month the medical community sets aside for matters related to heart health. That makes sense, given that Valentine’s Day is right in the middle of the month. So it was ironic that I found myself dealing with the matter of the heart in a serious way this month.
    This column is a valentine to the staff of the Conemaugh Health System.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo


Do you think pet obituaries should be included with death notices?

Yes, my pet is considered a member of the family.
No, pet obituaries are inappropriate.
Pet obituaries should be placed on a different page in the newspaper.
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads