Cumberland Times-News

Columns

June 1, 2014

Coming soon to a highway near you?

People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”



In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.



One of my co-workers said, “Goldy? Can I ask you two questions?”



“Sure,” I replied. “What’s the other one?”



She took the next two or three minutes to call me everything but what I am, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Genius deserves to be rewarded.



Sometimes, people ask me questions I can’t answer, at least not right off. A fellow I know recently asked me, “So what don’t you like about those roundabouts on Route 220?”



That stopped me in my tracks. It left me standing there, as we say in my family, with my teeth in my mouth.



He might as well have asked Hugh Hefner why he likes girls or Dick Butkus why he liked to play football. I had no answer, smart-(beast of burden)ed or otherwise, and mumbled something about how he should ask the truck drivers or anyone else who has to weave through them like the Titanic should have been doing in that ice field.



We’ve belabored the stupid-about and the question mark-about enough, haven’t we? If this fellow has read sufficiently of our discussions to know that I don’t like them, he ought to know my reasons.



I have on occasion — while going (zig to the left, zig to the right, stand up, sit down, fightfight- fight) southbound through the question mark-about — seen cars backed up almost to the bottom of the hill, waiting to their turn to go through the northbound stupid-about, where the lead driver must wait to see if he will have to yield the right-of-way to someone who is cutting in front of him after coming through the question mark-about.



Never in half a century of driving to Cumberland from Keyser did I see such backed-up traffic there until the advent of the -abouts.



Compared to what’s been deposited upon motorists elsewhere, what we have here is nothing more than a mild exercise of your brakes and steering.



The Congressman’s Lookalike Son and I went to Morgantown a while back for a Civil War symposium at West Virginia University (where I found and had a wonderful conversation with Mister A, one of my all-time mostbeloved college professors, who’s still sharper than his students were.) My friend knows the new Morgantown as well as I knew the old Morgantown and was driving. Suddenly, we were going through what seemed to a relative rookie like me to be
the roundabout from hell.



We were surrounded by cars that were flashing in front of us, behind us and past us in the opposite direction at what seemed an unreasonable speed. I could almost hear Rod Serling doing the intro to The Twilight Zone:
“You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind ... .”

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