It’s not much of a street, just an old country short cut wedged in between two busy state highways. There’s a large dip about halfway along the road where it runs past an unlikely post office set up in a tiny and ancient cottage. Like the one where The Big Bad Wolf digested Granny. Can’t help thinking about the term “dead letter drop” whenever I go past.
Not too long ago the boys and girls down at the highway department came out and gave the road a new black top and a bright, double yellow stripe down its center from end to end. It was a nice gesture, gave the little road a boost of pride no doubt, hooking it up proper to those two highfalutin state highways. Smartened up the whole 300 yards of it, I’d say.
But two weeks later another group of hard hats set up shop, putting a screen around the road’s only manhole. They popped the cast iron manhole cover–bisected by that double yellow stripe like a pizza wheel halving a tomato pie. Then the crew blocked traffic for a day or two while they crawled down into the hole, probing and sedating the intestines of a sleeping monster. They came back up, took down the screen and went on their way.
But ladies and gentlemen, things are not the same. Instead of taking care to reseat the manhole cover with its twin yellow end points connecting to the double lines on either side of it, they left it awkwardly off-center—cattywampus, if you will. Catty-damn-wampus! The orderly flow of the double yellow stripes is now rudely interrupted by a cockeyed yellow equal sign. It mocks the entire road, undermines the state highways, compromises the whole interstate system and therefore the bridges, the rivers, the lakes, our friend the loon, the oceans and, ultimately shames the entire planet.
Before dismissing this as the overwrought exaggeration of an obsessive-compulsive, answer this: Had it been you, wouldn’t you have spent the extra minute or so lining up the stripes? Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a heavy damn piece of iron and it’s not as simple as lining up all the paper clips on my desk in a straight line—which, by the way, presents its own challenges.
To me, it’s a basic issue of law and order. The double line is the law, the province of lawyers. But the straightness of the line is the order, and order is for all of us. How could they simply plop the cover back in place without being aware of such an egregious disconnect? I mean, did they even notice the stripes?
Or consider this nightmare scenario: They saw the stripes all right. All part of a subtle conspiracy aimed at subverting the public order to foment anarchy. In the words of bullet-ready Bernard P. Fyfe “We have to nip this in the bud.”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.