I collect markers of what I call “roadkill” legislation — roadside
signs that demean my intellect or destroy my privileges. My favorite,
of course, is “Click it or Ticket”. Get it? How clever of my state’s
Humorous Sign Department (staffed by a dozen failed ex-comedians who
enjoy fat salaries and a pension plan promising double their salary).
The seatbelt sign reminds me that the belt, my strapped in belly, and
the car belong to me. So does the road (my taxes). And I recall with
sadness decedents, strangled by seat belts, who left this vale of
tears after being T-boned or plunged into rivers, while many an
unbelted survivor has been tossed from his vehicle toward safety.
Not to mention kids crushed by safety bags. What federal bureaucrat
foresaw that? Why does my son ban me from seating my precious grandson
in the front seat? “You’ll kill him!” he hollers as we back out of the
driveway. Gee, I thought they saved lives.
However, the epitome of the state’s arrogance is “Traffic Fines Double
in Work Zone.” It attributes to me the lowest of morals. Let’s see; if
I knock down a road worker and it only costs $75, I’ll consider
bowling one over and getting to work on time. What’s the calculus? One
mashed road worker and congratulations: “Ted, you’re on time this
morning”? But doubly fined — $150? That’s apparently enough of a
penalty to upset my moral equation. I’d risk a worker’s life for $75,
but not for $150. That’s what my state thinks of me. Not very
Forget occupying Wall Street. What we need is a roadsign protest
movement that occupies our nation’s streets, cruising unbelted to a
convocation site. Composed mainly of Washington lawyers disguised as
farmers in denims and straw hats, they sue the first cop who slaps a
seatbelt violation on them. They take it all the way to the Supreme
Court, where any properly briefed schoolboy can prove that the
Constitution doesn’t even whisper of straps, belts, or suspenders
while riding your horse, and it’s clearly an infringement on the
comfort of your own body, especially after a large, inflationary meal.
I save the best for last. The newest reminder by the state is that our
life expectancy would go up ten years if we discarded our nefarious
vehicles in favor of plodding horses, mules, or better yet, large
turtles imported from the Galapagos Islands. How safe we would be! I
refer here to the “No Texting While Driving” billboard. It doesn’t
mention eating corn on the cob, reading War and Peace, or undertaking
acrobatic sexual activity. Just texting. What about telephoning?
That’s not dangerous when your wife tells you that her sister — the
one with two kids — is coming to live with you? In the face of such
news you’re not going to make a U-over four lanes of traffic to get to
the bar, or end up in the front seat of the car in front of you? Or
maybe bail out, converting your car into an unguided missile . . .
In summing up the above on personal safety, I say it is a matter of
personal choice unless it infringes the rights of others. Sadly, we
live in an age when society has robbed us of any choice in these
concerns, as well as others that are much more serious. We’re on a
The humor of Ted, the Scribbler on the Roof, appears in newspapers around the U.S., on National Public Radio in Huntsville, Alabama and numerous web sites.