Along with good and bad there’s sad. In every state, there are markers noting the deaths of state troopers or a local Sheriff’s deputy. State Troopers make everyone nervous, but few know the complexity, loneliness, and danger of that particular kind of police work. And in most states, the pay is just above lousy.
The other side of that coin is found in north Georgia, where pieces of I-95 are named after people you’ve never heard of. I get, let’s say, The Ronald Reagan Turnpike. “X” miles of an already existing highway with some guy’s name on it? Go figure.
Then there is maddening. Add that to good, bad, and sad. For reasons that seem to have no substance to them, traffic just stops. One type of example is the roadway from Richmond to Arlington, Va. There are construction signs. In many areas are huge pieces of equipment. The earth has been gouged for the coming of new lanes. What’s missing is workmen. Nothing, and I mean nothing is there that would grind our speed down to 20 mph for mile after mile.
Maddening also are the slow ups because an accident of no great consequence has happened on the other side of the road, and hundreds of drivers slow down to take a look backing up traffic for miles. A traffic cop should be posted on the non-accident side with a whistle and a strong arm, waving people on and giving an occasional ticket for good measure. That’ll keep folks going.
Then there’s the traffic jam for absolutely no reason whatever. The cars just got tired? I don’t know. One sits in the traffic with one’s mind moving quadruple the speed of the car, thinking about this, imagining about that, controlling your teeth, so they don’t get ground into dust from frustration. Then comes a sign. “Caution. Bridge freezes before roadway.” Ah ha! A reason. Then you realize it’s four days past the beginning of summer.
Some random comments about states. Georgia: BORING! Though in north Georgia, you see stretches of Savannahs that look like the African plains but are hundreds of miles from the city, which takes their name. Another go figure. South Carolina. It wins the Flowers and Faith prize, and, of course, it has the world-famous Mexican Disney Land, Pedro’s South of the Border. Never been there; never will. The state does a nice job in some areas with beautiful plantings of flowers, and never have I seen so many in-your-face king-sized religious messages in my life. North Carolina lands between Georgia and South Carolina, while Virginia, is just a beautiful place.
The finale is billboards. They should all be burned down. They are useless. They fall into two types. There are those that trees and bushes have been razed so the sign could be put up. They are useless because around many the vegetation grows up and you can’t see the sign. In addition, even if you can see them at 65 or 70 mph (or higher for a lot of you…), you certainly can’t read the message. The other type is the one that is three or four stories high, one after another. Marching down the highway, they look like they’ve escaped from a sy-fi movie. They may serve some purpose to the 10 or 12 people who don’t have a GPS or haven’t otherwise done some ahead of the trip planning, like making a reservation for a place to stay. For the rest of us, they despoil the landscape, including the skyline.
My suggestion? Either fly or take more time and explore the highways and byways. America is still out there past the exit signs. All you have to do is to look for it—at least from my perspective.
So friends, change is in the air. Bill’s next book, “George Washington Didn’t Sleep Here” is about to the birthed by the obgyn’s of books at the publishers. Stay tuned. And in several weeks this column may no longer be found here but on Bill’s website, williamgralnickauthor.com. We’ll let you know. Meanwhile, he says, it’s nice to be out of the car and in his own bed.