No. 322

While it’s not official, here in our state we jokingly say we have a new state flower. It is called “The Orange Barrel” and can be seen all up and down our Interstate Highway System. This is probably true in your state as well since our nation’s interstate highways are in a constant state of repair. The orange barrels serve to maintain a normal traffic flow and to provide a refuge for construction workers. Tragically, this method of protection along with reduced speed limits, is not always successful as many workers are killed each year in accidents. Most of these could have been avoided if motorists would slow down and be more careful.
One of the major problems in our community is traffic, as city planners had no idea 20 to 30 years ago that we would experience the rapid growth in population that we have. Consequently, we have street and highway construction projects going on all the time here as well. One of the best ways to control traffic is something that has come to be known as the by-pass. This may be good for improving the flow of traffic, but it is often very bad for existing businesses. Within a short period of time however, new businesses spring up along a new highway or by-pass. This is a case of build it, and they will come.
In the larger cities these by-passes soon connect and you have a complete circle around the city. In time, like the circles in a tree, they keep moving out as the city grows and new by-passes are added to keep up with the demands of traffic control. Back in the days when I used to travel more I would dread driving in a major city like Dallas or Atlanta. There are few things as dangerous as driving on an interstate highway in a large city if you do not know exactly where you are going, especially during the rush hour.
This reminds me of a story I heard one time about an ol’ country boy who came to Little Rock to visit some of his city kinfolks. Somebody had drawn him a map of how to get to their house and he got on loop I-430 that goes all the way around the city and he drove along to where he was supposed to turn off but something happened that caused him to miss his turn. He missed the exit ramp because some young men passed him in a hot rod, threw a few beer cans at him and welcomed him to Little Rock.
At this point the only thing he knew to do was go all the way around the city and pick it up when he got back to this same spot. Would you believe about the time he was ready to get off a woman in a big Cadillac car came along and made an improper lane change and he missed the exit again. Of course the only thing he could do was to go back around again. He was getting low on gas but he finally made it and “Lo and behold!” about that time they had a five alarm fire in the area and with sirens blaring, three fire trucks, the rescue squad and the fire chief came along and caused him to miss his turn for the third time.
By now he was almost completely out of gas and he was also very frustrated so he pulled off at the next exit and pulled into a service station and stopped. About this time four men came running out of the station, they put on a new set of tires, filled up his tank with gas, checked all his belts and fluids, washed his windshield and one of them stuck his head in the window and said, “get back in there boy, you are running in third place!!”
As I said, this is an old story and with a few modifications, it’s one that I heard my friend Bob Murphy from Nacogdoches, Texas tell several years ago. Hadn’t talked with Bob in a long time and I know he’s up in years. I just hope he is still alive and doing well. We have a lot of fine Texas papers that run this column and if any of you see Bob, tell him I said hello. God bless America. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)