Tim Grier, the Town of Payson's new deputy attorney, has a unique way of proving he's a Rim country old-timer.
While most people use the conventional calendar for referencing time, Grier refers to the number of fast-food establishments in Payson during a given era.
"I was here when Sonic was the only fast-food restaurant in town," Grier said. "That was before Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's."
Originally from Topeka, Kan., Grier graduated from ASU with a degree in English and then headed for the Rim country.
"That was 23 years ago," he said. Realizing that he probably wasn't going to parlay his English degree into a sizable fortune, Grier started a cross-country ski shop, then added rental cabins and an RV park.
Today, while he still lives in Forest Lakes where the business is located, his parents have taken over its day-to-day operation. That leaves him free to commute to Payson to fulfill his new duties at Town Hall and that's a challenge he said he's excited about.
"I worked as a county deputy attorney, prosecuting for Jerry DeRose and then Jim Hazel until just a few weeks ago," he said. "With the town I'll be able to do more things. Here, we do a lot of civil work, employment law, water law, contract law. We delve into the Americans With Disabilities Act."
But he'll also be handling the town's prosecutions.
"I'm going to be doing all the misdemeanor prosecutions within the town limits DUIs, domestic violence," he said. "One direction (Town Attorney) Sam (Streichman) wants to go in is to become very aggressive with the prosecution of town misdemeanors. We are going to have zero tolerance with DUIs and we're going to get tough with domestic violence crimes."
Streichman himself was another reason Grier said he left the county. "His experience and his knowledge is overlooked sometimes," he said.
"But as an attorney, when you're in the business, you recognize what a talent he is. I can learn so much from him."
Going back to school at 40 was a challenge, but he wasn't the oldest person in his law class.
"There was a gal there who was 73 years old Delores and I told her, between the two of us, we skewed the median age by about 40 years."
Grier was also challenged by the negative stereotypes about lawyers.
"I thought I was doing a good thing by going back to school (to become a lawyer), so it actually caught me a bit by surprise.
"I heard every lawyer joke out there, but it got to the point where I could ruin their fun by telling them the punch line before they finished the joke."
It's an image he said law schools are working hard to eradicate.
"There is a push in law school to (produce more) ethical attorneys.
"They require professionalism classes and an ethics class, and I think that's all because of the bad image attorneys have."
While Grier believes some lawyers have earned the negative reputation, part of the problem is the system itself.
"It's an adversarial system where we zealously argue for defendants and we try to prosecute at the same time. I don't know if there is a better system out there.
"I don't have to defend somebody I don't believe in," he said. "There are victims out there, and I am arguing for the victim. As a prosecutor, I am doing something for this victim. While I realize the importance of defense attorneys, I think I'd have a problem being one."
He also thinks his late start pursuing his new career has made him a better lawyer.
"Life humbles us and beats us up and teaches us that there are different ways of looking at things," he said. "I hope that I bring that to this office as well as my prosecuting abilities."