April 25, 2013

By: Stephen Hilgart, Dir. Of Marketing & Conference Operations

Dear America It's You Not MeAny real life goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot – I’m certainly feeling that way, because, next week I am…

Leaving the U.S.

My journey starts in China for fun, friends, and food (pig face, anyone?).  After that, I head to the GWP headquarters in Latvia – a.k.a. Bobby’s couch.

From there, other parts of Europe, maybe Asia, and wrapping back around to Panama for Global Escape Hatch in September.

Some ask me (usually in a completely frantic voice, which, I will try to imitate in text):


Many can’t even fathom a life outside the States.  They don’t understand there is so much world to see, so much to do, so much to experience.

The majority of people wake up, go to work, go home, pay bills, go to bed, and do it all over again… for 40, 50, or 60 years of their lives…  sitting in the same chair… at the same desk… until they die.

Scary, isn’t it?  But the number one human need (as funny as it is) is not survival… It’s familiarity.  People would rather stick with the moderate pain of the known than venture out into the uncertainty – or assume the risk – of the unknown.

I can’t say I’m immune.  I may or may not have been sweaty and shaky when clicking the “confirm” button on my one-way plane ticket.

What pushed me over the edge?  Why would I take action even if I was a bit scared?  While I certainly don’t agree with the direction our country is heading – I like the U.S. – I must have been on somebody’s shit-list…

Enter The Meter Maid

I moved into my swanky uptown apartment and I knew parking would be a challenge.  But I thought the women scratching at the bit to hang out in such a great location would make up for it.

(Seems logical, right?)

When I moved in, winter was approaching.  If you’ve never been through a Minnesota winter – it’s no joke – lots of snow and really freakin’ cold.

The first major snow falls (some 12-13 inches), so I do what every other city slicker in Minneapolis does – I go outside to dig my car out of the snow.  After all, if I didn’t, in a few hours the plows would come by and bury it even deeper.

After a half hour of shoveling I hop in my sporty car to see if I can just gun it and escape the white mountains surrounding me.  No chance in hell.

So I keep going… Shoveling and slamming on the gas, then back to shoveling, and slamming on the gas.

An hour has gone by now and even though it’s 10 degrees below zero I’m sweating through my jacket, gloves, and hat (don’t worry, my pants were already soaking wet from the snow I was standing in)….

And then… off in the distance I see what any upstanding citizen in need of a hand would love to see – a police officer!

To preface a bit, during the winter in Minnesota every person knows that at one point or another you are going to get stuck.  The unwritten rule is that if you see someone stuck, you give them a push because you’re going to need one soon enough (a karma thing, maybe?).

I wave to the officer pulling up in his car – he waves back and slows to a stop towards the front of my car.

A huge sigh of relief – I didn’t want to be out there another hour.

The officer hops out of his car and I walk to the back to finish shoveling snow away from my bumper.

In my overly excited voice I said, “Thanks man! I could really use a push!”

I bend over for a second to clear the bumper and next thing I know, I see the officer run to the front of my car, place a ticket under my windshield wiper, bolt back to his car and drive away – without saying a word.

I was dumbfounded.

I honestly stood around for several moments looking for the hidden cameras waiting for someone to jump out of a snow bank and say “You’re on candid camera!”

But alas, it was my car, my shovel, my brand new ticket, and I.

And If That Wasn’t Bad Enough…

The stories get even more ridiculous. 

Like last week, where I was written a ticket by one officer while another was nailing a sign in the ground that said “no parking here today – police order” (and yes – at the SAME time).

Or how about when they towed my car right outside of my apartment because I was 3 feet from a “driveway” instead of 5…

(I say “driveway” because it isn’t one.  There used to be one, but a BUILDING was built on top of it.  Do they ticket buildings for being in the driveway?  They should tow that thing!)

Did I mention that was on my birthday?  Happy birthday to me!

What I’ve come to realize is that the police here don’t stop the bad guys, they enforce the law.  It was silly of me to think anything else.

Now, this week alone, we can talk about increased taxes, the destruction of the constitution, martial law being instituted, the blatant manipulation of gold prices, the passing of CISPA, the veto of the anti-insider trading laws, the murdering lunatics who will now be accused of terrorism and become the rallying cry of some new war – but gosh darn it – I want to complain about my parking tickets!

I need a break. 

So, sorry America: I’m leaving.

Not sure when I’ll be back again.

I just need to date other countries right now.

It’s you, not me.