Ever been in one of those situations where the pieces don't seem to fit together but it takes a while to figure out precisely what's wrong? You know, where two oddities get your attention, three form a trend line, and the sixth is the confirmation? Manuel Paz Sanchez Jr. was recently pulled over in Columbus, Montana and is likely to encounter an extended stay in federal prison based upon a story that didn't make any sense (until it suddenly all made sense).
First off, it takes a concerted effort to get to Columbus, population 2,000 (give or take). Trust us, it's a place you would only transit if visiting major cities in Montana, as Google Maps can attest.
Why was Mr. Sanchez originally pulled over? No, not for the traditional "driving slowly in the passing lane" but for following another car too closely. Yes, criminal enterprises operated from rental cars routinely end due to everyday traffic offenses. And Sanchez's story crumbled like cheap styrofoam.
Storyline Error 1:
With a rental contract from/to Sacramento, California he claimed to be coming from Idaho. He was in Montana, which would be a horrendous geography fail.
Storyline Error 2:
He then claimed the car was going back to California but he found it cheaper to fly out of North Dakota. Sounds like something an AutoSlash team member might say but that's geography fail two; no one's ever found a flight out of North Dakota so inexpensive it's better to amend a rental from a round-trip into a one-way. Plus, most parts of Idaho are closer to Sacramento than Bismarck!
Storyline Error 3:
He couldn't name any of the towns he had been in or the airport he was ostensibly to depart from in North Dakota. That would be geography fail number three but we're pretty confident he was already "flying", as ...
Storyline Error 4:
This was obviously wrong and created suspicion among the DEA personnel -- Yogi Bear lives in Jellystone National Park, there was no reference to Boo Boo, and Mr. Sanchez was not in possession of a picnic basket or other provisions. Remarkably, this was the first part of the story that made any sense geographically, as Yellowstone is between Idaho and Columbus, Montana! We can't be sure whether the guy was strung out (likely) or being a wise guy (also likely) but I need to show this article to my family as a cautionary tale ...
* Last month, my 70-year-old uncle was pulled over in Georgia for excessive speed just before Thanksgiving. When asked where he was going, he responded "Grandmother's House" and somehow only got away with just a warning.
Storyline Error 5:
The DEA agent thought it was odd that a driver in a rental car would have an already used tire repair kit in the center console. That's one of the best examples of observation and intuition we've read about in a long time; what tire on a rental car (which may not even have a spare) gets repaired by a customer?
Storyline Error 6:
A trooper -- during a consented search -- took the spare tire out and noticed it didn't bounce; he knew the pieces fit because he watched them fall away. The lack of bouncing was due to the 8 pounds of meth in the tire fixed with the repair kit.
With that, Mr. Sanchez was guaranteed to have non-deluxe accommodations in the federal government's version of The Island of Misfit Toys for this holiday season. Ideally, he wasn't soliciting escape tips during his interactions with Yogi!