Commonwealth: The Last Word (July/Aug.)

Neighborhood watch: How for want of a speed bump, I’m losing my mind


stop_sign“You may be wondering, Mr. Brunner, why we’ve assembled this informal gathering of our homeowner association members here in your front yard this morning.”

“Uh, yes. I was just bringing the dog out to let him, um…. Could you let me throw some clothes on?”

“That’s not necessary, Mr. Brunner; you look dashing enough there in your bathrobe.” 

“Um, thanks. Well good morning, uh, neighbors.”

“I’ll get to the point, Mr. Brunner.”

“Harriett, please call me Scott…I mean, like you usually do.”

“Certainly. As president of our little association, I want you to know you’re among friends here, Mr. Brunner – friends concerned about the unusual zeal with which you have attempted to enforce safety rules here on our little cul de sac. Consider this an intervention, of sorts, Mr. Brunner.”

“Well, I…”

“We understand your interest in assuring our street is safe for the children. We share that interest. But is it not true that you have taken up the habit of accosting random service delivery vehicles here on our street and tongue-lashing the drivers for reckless driving?”

“It wasn’t a tongue-lashing, exactly. You’re talking about when I shouted “slow down” at the mail lady as she whizzed by in her little truck, right?”

“Well yes, that. And when you stopped the UPS man. And that Latino fellow from our grounds maintenance crew, who, I should note, was on a riding lawnmower at the time.”

“He was going fast.”

“He was mowing, Mr. Brunner.”

“I see your point.”

“You just about gave the poor man a palpitation hollering ‘Citizen’s arrest!’ the way you did.”

“I’m truly sorry about that.”

“Did you not also, Mr. Brunner, just last week right here in the street, with your arms waving and your bathrobe slightly – shall we say ­­– askew, chase down the Fishers’ sixteen-year-old son and his friends in the boy’s car?”

“Right. I apologize for that one, too.”

“And did you not refer to him at the time as ‘Jeff Gordon and his posse’ and threaten to report him to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – a governmental agency that, by the way, has nothing to do with traffic control?”

“It was an unfortunate reference on both counts. I doubt Jeff Gordon would be caught dead in a ’97 Sentra with a busted muffler. But the kid was flying…”

“He was pulling out of the driveway next door. How fast could he have been going…in reverse?”

“What can I say? He struck a nerve. There are 12 children under age 10 living on this street, and like it or not, they sometimes play in or around the street. We don’t even have a speed limit sign.”

“No, Mr. Brunner, we apparently, instead, have you. It is, after all, not a playground. It’s a street, Mr. Brunner.”

“And they are, after all, children…who sometimes don’t remember to look both ways. All I’m asking for is for is safer driving. Slower speeds. I’ve been thinking what we need is a speed bump…”

“Perhaps that would explain the pallet of concrete you had delivered here to the front of your house yesterday, Mr. Brunner?”


“And the invitation neighborhood children recently received to what you’re billing as “Bob-the-Builder’s Bring-Your-Own-Trowel Street Party” later this afternoon?”

“Just a bit of neighborly fun.”

“There are child labor laws, Mr. Brunner. And permits, approvals, all of that.”

“You know what they say about forgiveness being easier than permission….”

“Mr. Brunner, the county builds speed bumps, not our homeowner association and certainly not individual citizens with a Barney Fife complex.”


“And Mr. Brunner?”


“Whatever you’re planning with that water cannon I can see there in your backyard, we urge you to rethink your plans.”

Scott Brunner is VAR’s CEO and traffic control officer. Email him at

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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2 Responses to Commonwealth: The Last Word (July/Aug.)

  1. Dave Phillips says:

    This would be the most hilarious quote ever, but I’m not sure if you are joking are not. Scott, do you a single bullet in your top pocket?

    Question…wasn’t it Gomer Pile who said “citizens’ arrest” and not Barney? Barney was a cop, so he could do it for real. Man, that was a long time ago.

    Great post, thanks for the laugh – true or not….

  2. It enrages me when people drive over 30 in my neighborhood. I don’t care the slightest about speed limits on interstates, but in neighborhoods it just takes a second for 1 of my 4 kids that are 6 years old and under to jump out in the street–against my training–to chase a ball or run from their brother/sister.

    I would make ZERO apologies for any zeal on my part for telling people to slow down in the neighborhood….Make some arrests for me, Scott!

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