Yellow Fervor

Making amends for peeing in public, Minneapolis-style

After these confessions and ruminations, the facilitators turned to the matter of reparations. What, they asked the lawbreakers, would be the best way to make amends? Mark the pot smoker was first in line. He suggested that he perform 16 hours of community service at the Multiple Sclerosis Society. As it happened, Mike the urinator had some experience working with people with M.S. He figured eight hours of volunteer service there would be a good way to make amends; that and a letter of apology to First Avenue and the owner of the peed-upon parking lot. Cheryl agreed, but thought Mike also ought to put his skill as a graphic designer to work. Mike then offered to gin up a poster. "I was thinking of something like, 'The alley isn't your bathroom.'"

For her part, Shelly offered up her academic skills as a volunteer tutor. Earlier, Shelly had mentioned the problem presented by Minneapolis's lack of public restrooms—a stark contrast, she said, to what she has experienced in her many travels in Europe. For citizen Cheryl, that triggered an idea: Why couldn't Shelly do some research on the viability of building more public bathrooms downtown? The internet-savvy Shelly agreed to cobble together a packet of information on the topic, which she would then submit to the Downtown Council for its consideration.

Lonny Unitus

In the end, the evening was especially notable for the cordial manner in which the proceedings were conducted. Pot smoker Mark even pronounced it "pretty cool." And all three offenders said they were relieved that they had the opportunity to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction on their records. And for the two public urinators amongst them, Shelly and Mike, there was another reason to be grateful. On the nights of their misadventures, they had the very good sense to steer clear of Burnsville.

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