Cuba, MO. After a full day on the road, and a slab of meat loaf about the same size and weight as a brick, I was happy to settle down for a look at the news. Let’s see:
Politicians still lying? Check.
Athletes disgracing themselves? Check.
Ground Zero Mosque proceeding apace? Check
Mosque defenders portrayed as thoughtful and tolerant? Check
Mosque skeptics portrayed as ignorant goons by the thoughtful and tolerant? Check
President Obama’s Excellent Vacation Adventure continues? Check
With a few new wrinkles, everything seems pretty well where it was when I got behind the wheel this morning. Which got me to wondering, what would happen if I could get just a few of these politicians, or athletes, or media elites, to see America from the road? How would they react? What might they learn?
The day began in the mud lot behind a convenience store in Oklahoma, where I managed to back in between some other trucks late last night. Needing to get as close to St. Louis as possible today, I set out on I-40 East which, like a great many highways, has become an obstacle course of construction zones. Whatever the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s shortcomings, it must have been a bonanza for the sign-making and traffic cone industries. I didn’t see many people working in these zones, but the signage, barricades, cones, barrels, etc., are truly a wonder. In terms of creativity, they can only be matched by the narrowness of the lanes in these zones, flanked as they are by concrete barriers on either side which guarantee that any tire blow-out or slight swerve will quickly turn vehicles into pinballs. I think DOT Secretary Ray LaHood should ride in my truck and watch as we maneuver only inches from the concrete on one side and families on the other.
There seemed to be more carnage on the road today than usual. One particularly bad accident involved an SUV that appeared to have traveled across the median into oncoming traffic. Emergency responders were trying to cut the driver out of the vehicle when I drove by. At another accident scene in Missouri, they were placing a gentleman on a stretcher to load him in the ambulance when I passed. Perhaps some politicians could watch these heroes at work and explain why, when voters demand that they function within their budgets, they always threaten to lay off these vital public servants rather than lay off a few bureaucrats?
Missouri seems to have a very enterprising population, as the “Show Me” state has lots to show. Just a few miles from me tonight sits “The World’s Largest Rocking Chair.” It has to be true. There was a picture of it on the billboard and it dwarfed everything around it including the people standing next to it. If I wasn’t driving something the size of a building, I would have gone in search of it to verify. Other billboards advertised a bra repair shop, a tobacco outlet, truck stops, restaurants, motels, and just about anything else you could want or imagine. These signs represent the efforts of small businesses, and they are being crushed. Perhaps some well meaning utopian fathead could stop at one or two of these businesses and listen (for a change) as the owners tell them what it’s like to try and survive the regulatory and confiscatory boot that this government has on their throat.
At the end of the day, after a meal that was a sumptuous feast compared with last night’s beanie weenies, I was approached by a young man with a military haircut and his little son. His eyes were red. Behind him, maybe 20 feet back, stood his wife. She looked miserable too. Pointing toward my hat, he said, “You’re military?” “Retired,” I answered. He looked around as if to make sure no one could hear us, before telling me that he was active duty and moving to a new duty station in Ohio with his family. He had lost his bank card. I asked him if he had notified his bank and he said, “Yes sir.” He pointed toward the gas pumps and said that he didn’t have enough cash to get his family where they needed to go. I’m approached by panhandlers all the time, but this was different. This guy defends the rest of us. As a vet, I’m not turning my back on him. He now has fuel and his family can have a meal. We shook hands and I thanked him for his service, asking him to stay safe. Maybe the politicians, the elites, the people who are only generous with other people’s money, can explain why private charity should be diminished in favor of collective confiscation. Maybe they can explain to that young soldier why he should risk his life defending a Constitution that they ignore. Maybe if they spent some time on the ground with the people that make this country work, they might revisit their grand visions. Then again, maybe I hope for too much.