Motel Guest Can't Check Out

You can check into the Tally Ho Motel, but sometimes you can't check out.

Gary Schroeder was driving cross-country when he checked into the Thayer, Mo., establishment on Aug. 26, reports KAIT-TV of Jonesboro, Ark.

As the California man parked his truck and camper trailer, the air-conditioning unit on the trailer hit the awning of the motel, causing some damage.

"Where I come from, if you have an accident, you exchange insurance information," Schroeder told the TV station.

The motel owner, Robert Crase, didn't see it that way. He pulled a tractor behind Schroeder's truck and camper, blocking him in.

"He's traveling through here," said Crase, "and if I cut him loose, I don't think I'll ever get paid for the damage."

Schroeder said his insurance offered to pony up $10,000 for the damage.

Crase said the damage totaled $24,000, then kicked Schroeder, without truck or trailer, off the property.

Without transportation, lodging or personal belongings, Schroeder was forced to rely on the charity of the St. Peter United Methodist Church (search) — right across the street from the motel.

He camped out on the lawn to keep a better eye on his belongings. Among them, he said, were his wife's cremated remains, which he was taking to her New Jersey hometown.

Allen Deckard, mayor of Thayer, was one of many town residents who tried to help Schroeder as best they could.

"This is a joke as far as I'm concerned," Deckard said. "I mean, you won't believe how many people have been up here at this church to bring him food. He's desperate."

Deckard also said he'd tried getting some kind of legal assistance from county and state officials, but had been turned down by all because it was a civil matter.

Salvation finally came a week later. When Crase left the motel grounds for a short period, Schroeder freed his truck with the aid of a chainsaw and hit the road.

— Thanks to Out There reader Billie M.

Lousy Tip Leads to Diner's Arrest

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (AP) — Humberto A. Taveras put his money where his mouth is and ended up arrested, accused of leaving an inadequate tip at a restaurant.

Taveras, 41, faces a misdemeanor charge of theft of services after he and his fellow diners argued with Soprano's Italian and American Grill (search) managers over the legality of requiring an 18 percent tip for large parties.

"They chased us down like a bunch of criminals," Taveras said. "It killed our weekend."

Taveras and eight others had pizza at the restaurant in this resort village Sunday night. He said they weren't completely satisfied with the food and left a tip of under 10 percent.

Taveras said they also were not told of a mandatory 18 percent gratuity for parties of six or more and did not see notice of it on their menus.

Restaurant owner Joe Soprano said all the menus have the notice, and the waitress informed the group. He said he did not choose to pursue charges because of the money, but because Taveras' group was obnoxious.

"It's unfortunate it has come to this, but this guy was rude and abrasive. They practically threw food at us," Soprano said.

Taveras plans to fight the charge. The arrest raises the issue of whether the gratuities that restaurants automatically tack on for serving large groups are legally enforceable debts.

Cops Take Public Transportation to Chase Bank Robbers

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — It was the talk of the town on Friday: two policemen trying to catch two bank robbers hopped on a streetcar because they lacked a car.

While the robbery itself went largely unnoticed, the ludicrous — and abortive — attempt Monday by the two cops was reported by eyewitnesses late Thursday and carried by Sarajevo newspapers the next day.

The scene could have been taken from a funny movie ridiculing police: two pursuing cops riding a streetcar in downtown Sarajevo, as the two fleeing robbers with $9,800 turn into a side street.

The two helpless officers could only watch as the robbers disappeared in a crowd. Neither the money nor the robbers have been found.

"I seriously cannot believe that my colleagues could be so stupid — what were they thinking? They made the entire force look bad," a Sarajevo policeman, who insisted on anonymity, told The Associated Press on Friday.

The same officer said that Sarajevo police currently are in desperate need of vehicles to seriously tackle even petty crime.

"The cars we have are old, and most of them break down all the time. The [interior] ministry has allocated the money for new cars, but they have not yet purchased them," the officer said.

Police later said the holdup in broad daylight at Privredna Bank on Sarajevo's main Titova Street had been carried out with only plastic guns.

Polka Dots Make Town Officials See Red

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A print shop owner is on the spot with city officials who say her dots are a don't.

The officials don't approve of the polka dots she's painted on an oak tree outside her store.

Elle Puritz said she was just trying to protect the tree, as well as spread some good cheer, when she repainted the plain white trunk red, then added dots.

City officials say the splashy paint job violates sign ordinances.

The trunk of the roadside tree had been painted white years ago to make it more visible to cars. When Puritz bought the property in January, she decided to spruce it up.

She chose red paint close to the color of her building, and an arborist gave her sealant to put in the paint to stop it from oozing.

But, Puritz said, she realized the red wasn't very visible, so she added reflective polka dots. It wasn't meant to be a draw for her new business, she said.

Puritz was notified last week that the decor violates the city's sign rules, which define a sign as anything designed to draw attention to a business, zoning administrator John Fullerton said.

Puritz said she was given until Sept. 24 to paint the trunk white — an acceptable color because of its utilitarian purpose, Fullerton said.

Llama on the Loose

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Hikers in the Chena River State Recreation Area (search) east of Fairbanks have been bumping into a loose llama and authorities are trying to figure out where it belongs.

George Carroll and Lisa Dick spotted the llama on the Chena Dome Trail last Monday about two miles from the trailhead at 49.1 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road. A family coming down the trail warned Carroll and Dick that there was a llama ahead so they weren't as shocked as they might have been, Carroll said.

"It was standing in the middle of the trail with no bridle or anything," said Carroll. "We tried to herd it back down the trail but it took off into the woods and came back out on the trail ahead of us.

"We weren't going to catch it," he said. "It was really skittish."

When he got home, Carroll called Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Control and the Alaska State Troopers. Neither immediately responded.

Troopers notified the Alaska Department of Fish and Game but Fairbanks area biologist Don Young said the state doesn't deal with llamas because they are considered a domesticated animal.

On Wednesday, animal control acting manager April Barnes had heard only second-hand reports of the llama and had not talked to anyone who had seen it.

It would take at least two of the borough's three animal control officers to catch the animal and even then there is no guarantee they could corral it, she said.

"That's a lot of man time to dedicate somebody to drive 50 miles and hike a couple miles in on a trail to look for an animal they might not even see," she said. "If it's pretty wild it's going to be a big challenge."

People often use llamas as pack animals but Alaska State Parks officials had not received any reports of a lost llama, said northern region parks superintendent Anna Plager.

"That is too weird," said Plager.

Barnes was still checking into the situation Wednesday and wasn't sure what Animal Control would do.

"If the owner doesn't go get it pretty soon it's going to starve or freeze or get eaten by a bear or get shot," said Carroll.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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