What a drag–the main one that is!

A great philosophical truth was uttered in Fat Frantic the other day.
“It’s a good thing we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for,” hollered Hollerin’ Harold, commenting on the latest local traffic control regulations.
The whole trucking fraternity–this is a men’s only club–was gathered around the tables at the Drive Inn, sucking back coffee like dry camels with a major thirst. The fog of tobacco smoke had pretty much driven out the non-nicotine contingent.
The occasion was district-wide, ice-slick roads, compliments of the worst freezing drizzle of the season.
The Main Drag in good ol’ Fat Frantic is like all tourists towns. It winds past every business in the community–bar none.
This is the proud achievement of decades–no, generations–of local legislation and political pressure on senior levels of government. This ensures all traffic is slowed to allow the tourist to avail themselves of every opportunity to lighten their pockets before escaping into the hinterland.
The reasoning and the plot is thus.
First, you ensure the port of entry in right into the middle of town. That way you get the suckers . . . er, guests . . . coming and going.
Next, you make the signage as confusing as possible, guaranteeing they have to stop and ask for directions. They’ll have to anyway after a five-hour wait trying to clear Customs & Immigration. By then, they’re desperate for a pit stop.
Now you throw in traffic lights at every intersection–all carefully synchronized so every one of them is red. Then to top it off, throw about 500 pulp trucks, plus all the main highway truck traffic, into the mess to absolutely guarantee the lights will change at least five times before you clear the block.
If you look closely in the tourist cars, you can see how well this plot is working. The driver–with teeth clenched, jaw set, and both hands clutching the steering wheel–is glaring straight ahead while riding the bumper of the pulp truck in front.
In the passenger seat, the “nagivator,” her jaw flapping at about the same rate as a hummingbird’s wing, but making considerably more noise, is giving directions.
In the back, the glassy-eyed offspring, earphones firmly in place, are staring blankly as their heads vibrate in sync with the cacophony emitted by their personal CD players. They whine, “Are we there yet?”
Meanwhile, the idle merchants stare from their shop windows and wonder why business is down again this year.
Retail merchandising at its best. In the old days, we were much more civilized about it. We robbed, murdered, and dumped the travellers’ bodies in the canal. We got more money, it was quick and clean, and there were about as many repeat customers.
This new system was working like a charm until the truckers rebelled. They beat the traffic jams by running at night as much as possible. But the town fathers soon threw a wrench into that. The flashing yellows that would let the big rigs, without stopping, coast right down the main drag from midnight to 7 a.m. with barely a whisper are now flashing reds–all five of them.
“The young lad, Flip Side, has got ’er all figured out,” confided Whisperin’ Gearshift in a hoarse rasp, barely audible over the clattering of coffee cups.
The din suddenly quieted and all ears tuned in as this sage of road lore added, “With those straight pipes and 500 under the hood, under full load, he can rip though seven shifts in half a block, then he lets the Jake pull ’er down to a stop for the light.
“The noise is somethin’ to behold. Startin’ to shatter windows and the mortar is crumblin’ right outta those brick fronts. Gabriel blow your horn an’ the walls shall come tumblin down,” Whisperin’ Gearshift concluded as he reverently emptied his coffee cup, signalled for a refill, and fired up another roll-your-own.
“I hear the residents are petitionin’ the guv’mint to put in a truck bypass,” he whispered.

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