`Boot man’ calls it quits
Britt Queer, Aspen’s infamous “boot man,” is about to hang up his boots for good.
He’s been the subject of virulent letters to the editor, he’s been attacked while doing his job, he’s been accused of “hiding in the weeds” to catch his parking quarry, and he’s been hauled into court by irate car owners who say they are the “victims” of an illegal act.
And now, after 12 years of attaching “boots” to the wheels of vehicles illegally parked in certain locations around Aspen, Britt Queer is calling it quits.
Queer contracts with property owners to boot cars that park on their private property, which is posted with signs advising motorists that they will be booted.
Over the past dozen years, he has been vilified by those whose cars he has booted, although police and parking enforcement officials say he is a friendly, even kindly man when not backed into a corner by screaming “victims” who find one of his contraptions immobilizing their vehicle.
Aspen City Attorney John Worcester recalled that the City Council once considered an ordinance that would have required clear signs at the affected parking areas, warning drivers they would be booted if they parked there, what the fee is to be “de-booted,” and prohibiting the booting of cars driven by someone who is handicapped or a disabled veteran. The law also would have protected “immobilized vehicles” from being booted.
But, Worcester remembered, the ordinance was not enacted.
The rumors of Queer’s decision to quit were circulating through the Aspen law enforcement community Wednesday afternoon, and Queer himself, reached late yesterday afternoon, gave the final confirmation.
“Yeah, in a couple of weeks or something, I’ll walk away. But this is the busiest time of the year,” he said in a telephone interview.
Queer was in Pitkin County Court on Wednesday, where a judge ruled against him and in favor of the plaintiff, Greg Kelman of Snowmass Village. Kelman sued Queer for $60 after having his car booted while he was parked in a private parking area, saying the signs were “extremely old and unreadable,” according to court documents.
When asked if the loss in court had something to do with his decision to quit the business, Queer said, “I guess so. I’m just tired of all the press and all the grief. I’ve had my fill. It’s time to do something else.”
He said he is thinking of selling the business if he can find a buyer, but noted he hasn’t been able to even hire employees.
“This is a tough job,” he noted. “They can’t even find anybody to work at McDonald’s. So who want’s to boot cars?”
Beside the difficulty of the work, he said he recently experienced a family tragedy, which has added to his feeling that it’s time to move on.
And, he said, given the high recognition factor that comes with his name, he’s just tired of the notoriety – although he admits he got used to it “once I made it through public school.”
In fact, he noted, his name may have something to do with his ability to put up with his job.
“It’s probably one reason I can boot cars,” he mused. “It’s like, who cares, I’ve heard it all!”
Queer said he started in the boot business back in the late 1980s, working for a man who owned the booting business at the time, and he just “fell into it.” He ultimately took the business over.
The pay, he said, is “decent. And if I want to work, I work. If I don’t, I don’t.”
In the high seasons, he said, he can work 16 hours a day, while in the off-seasons it can drop down to two hours a day.
“You have to sell the peanuts when the circus is in town, and the circus is coming this weekend,” he quipped.
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In 1895, the fad sweeping Aspen for women was to dye their hair red.