The Boot Man cometh
ASPEN Attention Clark’s Market shoppers: Your parking lot is now a boot zone.
To the delight of some and the chagrin of others, Brit Queer – the man who turns people’s vehicles into immovable objects by clamping boots on them – is expanding his territory into Clark’s parking lot.”I’ll be starting either Monday [today] or Tuesday,” he said, “so people need to know.”Queer, 45, commutes to Aspen from his Basalt home most every day of the week. While being the Boot Man – he’s done it for 16 years, so his title merits capitalization – could be considered one of the least enviable jobs in Aspen, it’s not without perks.First, Queer basically determines what hours he wants to work, and he answers to no one. He doesn’t work for the city, but instead private parking lot owners contract him to keep people honest. The landlords don’t pay him, and he doesn’t pay the landlords. Instead, he earns his income from the motorists who park in the lots he polices. The only way to remove the jaws of justice from a vehicle is by paying the Boot Man 80 bucks – cash only.Not that Queer hasn’t been offered other methods of payment. The man some people can’t stand gets the Mick Jagger treatment every so often.
“I’ve been offered sex and drugs,” Queer said. “One time a woman took her shirt off while she was in the car.”He added: “People are usually surprised when they see a boot on their car. They want to deal with me. They’ll try to get me high, they’ll offer me sex. And sometimes they even tip me extra.”There’s also the opposite extreme, in which boot recipients pick fights with him at places like the Red Onion. He’s also been sued in small claims court, and in the early 1990s the Aspen City Council had to scrutinize Queer’s business. Some people felt that his boot enforcement was unconstitutional, but the council ultimately decided that Queer’s business was legal because the lots he monitored are private and can’t be patrolled by the police. Queer, who has a collection of a dozen boots, said the owners of the Clark’s Market building, Frank Woods and Tony Mazza, asked him to take over the lot. Queer said businesses in the Clark’s shopping center will benefit from his presence. That’s because he’ll be cracking down on vehicles that don’t belong there, either because they’ve exceeded the two-hour parking limit or the motorists aren’t shopping at the Clark’s center. He said he’ll monitor the vehicles by chalking their tires. The other lots are private, so Queer makes several daily rounds through town on his mountain bike, with at least one of the 40-pound boots in his backpack.”Strong back, weak mind,” he said with a laugh.
In addition to Clark’s Market, Queer’s boot turf includes the lots behind the Miner’s building, Boogie’s Diner and the ones next to the Wienerstube and the Gap. Queer said he has been hardened over the years. He said he used to take it personally when boot victims unleashed their fury on him. After all, as the man who booted their cars, he was the immediate object of their anger.”A lot of times I catch people at their worst,” he said. “If they have a bad day they blow up at me. But I don’t take it personally any more.”Queer, who also makes a living as a caretaker and a subpoena server, said that on average he boots one vehicle per day. He expects he’ll boot even more with Clark’s in his zone, but he’s offering fair warning.Rick Carroll can be reached email@example.com.
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