I heard an incredible conversation last week in the gas station chicken check-out line. Incredible, because it's hard to believe a person could actually say something so not-smart.
You all know by now that I live on the outskirts of Backroads. We don't claim to be an enclave of Einsteins. MENSA is not beating down our door to put a museum in our midst. Forget about building a better mousetrap. Our kind of folks probably threw away the newly-invented wheel because, "That dang thing kept rolling away!"
For the past month, the road through town has been marked with skinny orange cones and signs proclaiming Road Work Ahead. I have never actually observed a work crew. But a new strip of concrete has been laid on the right side of the road. Its stark whiteness is quite a contrast to the blacktop of the regular road. This concrete strip is about three feet wide. It runs from an apartment complex, past a bar with beach volleyball, past a real estate office, past a package liquor store, to the stoplight. There, it ends. The total distance is about 150 feet.
A customer remarked to the cashier, "I wonder what they're building out there."
CASHIER: "I'm not sure."
CUSTOMER: "I heard it was supposed to be a center turn lane."
CASHIER: "Is that right?"
CUSTOMER: "Well, that's what I heard. But I don't see how. Because it's on the SIDE of the road!"
Yes. This is what our local think tank ponders when the members are not busy lounging on bridges, turning them into standing room only structures, or sidling along the girders like so many Flying Wallendas. Take away their bridges, and the roads become their new challenge. They would do well to consult a chicken on the proper way to get to the other side. But I fear they would sooner ask a possum.
Only in Backroads to people think center turn lanes are created by pouring concrete in the middle of a blacktop road to widen it. Like the highway department has a giant crowbar to spread that road apart. Or a zipper to undo. Or that they can't add pavement to the side of the road and repaint the center lines. They seem not to notice the matching white concrete strip on the other side of the road. The one put there one year ago when a new drug store was built.
It's called a sidewalk.