The Open (Broken) Road

I’ve been driving across the country alone quite a bit lately and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at much I enjoy it. Once you get away from the metropolis traffic and hit the roads lined with cows and 70 mph speed limit signs the stress level of driving goes way down. Sometimes I get a little bored but I wouldn’t go as far as lonely. I love listening to music more than anyone I know and driving alone for hours is a great time to actually get a hold of your thoughts. And traveling without a companion really gives you control over the little things that can force you and a road tripping buddy to be at each others throats. I feel like Forrest Gump when he was running across the country: “when I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go,you, know, I went.” If you’ve never traveled alone, I recommend you do it just to see how great it is to only have to worry about your own needs and your own schedule. It’s fantastic.

The only thing that I find troubling from the whole experience is the goddamn roads. For hours I would drive uninterrupted by other cars then suddenly, a traffic jam in the middle of rural Indiana? WTF? No, there wasn’t a Notre Dame football game or the image of the baby Jesus in a cornfield. Just fucking construction. Everywhere I went from Minnesota to Boston had some sort of road work. Since being back in Massachusetts I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve gone and it’s just terrible. I tried to be understanding, acknowledging that soon the annually winter apocalypse will be overtaking New England so this is probably the best time to get this road work done. Except, just one minor problem. They just fucking fixed these same exact roads LAST YEAR!

How is it possible that we live in a society where we can now grow vegetables in Space but we can’t build roads that last one goddamn season? You ask around why the roads are so awful and you’ll hear a slew of the same responses about harsher winters, rock salts and various chemicals, and budget problems. But none of these are unseen variables. It’s the same shit every year. Are there really no road materials available that can sustain a New England Winter? Aren’t there clear incentives for companies that provide materials to develop this, knowing how much of a huge pain in the ass road closures and re-routed traffic is for the general public? Does anyone really like detours more confusing than US Tax Laws and potholes that are seemingly filled with silly puddy?

How is this not unacceptable? Let’s spend a ton of money on our roads, horribly inconvenience everyone and in a few months repeat the whole process? I’ve tried to look up why this continues to happen but I can’t find anything other than an inspirational quote: “The road to happiness is always under construction”. Great. Real fucking helpful. How about we build some decent roads and see how that affects everyone’s happiness for a change? I can’t help but feel like it’s a big conspiracy to build piss poor roads to ensure there will always be public works jobs available. After all, with the roads always so shitty who would reject a budget proposal to employ workers to fix those damn potholes. And if that’s the case, can I even object? I want people to have jobs, that seems pretty damn important. But if we were just to make sturdy roads, there really aren’t anything else we could have our laborers doing to improve our infrastructure?

Even if there isn’t just a simple plot to keep blue collar jobs in circulation, there is a surely something disingenuous going on in regards to the big “I” policies. Every political platform, Democratic or Republican, local or national, seems to throw around infrastructure as an economic panacea. But they never seem to do anything about it in reality, at best keeping the status quo. I can’t help but feel that fixing our roads is to politicians what moving to Los Angeles is to NFL owners. Any time the NFL wants a team to do something (or more accurately the taxpayers supporting the team) they can hold the “there’s a new stadium being built in LA” argument over their heads. But they never actually have to act on it, and if next year St. Louis, San Diego and/or Oakland actually do relocate they’re going to have to find a new way to extort the bubble teams and their fans. For now politicians can always fall back on the “we need to put people to work fixing our roads” promise. But if they actually fixed the damn roads one year, what if they have about as many ideas for creating new jobs as the guy who only thought about this for the last week (me). Fixing the roads are a safe idea to sell to the people, which is as good as any explanation I can think of as to why it never fucking happens.

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