I went to the courthouse for the first time today and stood in line for the metal detector as everyone around me emptied their pockets of prohibited items. I looked up some case files and headed out into the sunshine again when I saw this entrepreneurial establishment:


Yep, Matlock's owner Bill Roadman will hold your mace, scissors or giant knife for up to 60 days as you do your courtly duties. "People will forget their stuff, so I wind up with a big bag of mace!" he laughed, flipping out a $100 switchblade he keeps on his belt loop after its owner never returned.

"It depends on what cop is on duty, but usually they'll say to people in line, 'The hot dog man'll hold it for you!'" He doesn't take guns or hash pipes, he says, because "the cops came snooping around" for the politely held drugs back when he started the impromptu business a year ago. It doesn't make him a lot of money -- at $1 an item, he only brings in $5-$10 a day -- but it keeps things interesting. The biggest item he's ever held was a sword. "It was an ornamental sword," he explained, as if it the need for an an ornamental sword in the court house was more understandable than your classic broadsword.

The hot dogs smelled so good I almost caved and bought one. "But I haven't eaten beef or pork for years," I lamented to Bill. "Me neither," said Bill, "Funny thing is I've been a vegetarian for 30 years!" That means he's never tried one of his hot dogs despite running the stand for three years, ever since he saw it for sale online and thought it would be a good business venture. "People will ask me which hot dog's the best and I just say, 'All of them!'" he laughs. And why no veggie dogs at the stand? "This court house crowd, they're meat eaters!"

posted by Sarah Mirk