The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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Michele Bender

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.

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Michele Bender
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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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