22 miles of string

by on July 11, 2013
in Blowing a Gasket

Okay so the other day I was riding along highway 34 from Albia to Ottumwa. Now the west-bound half of the highway appeared to be freshly paved. The east-bound section did not. While I was mildly annoyed at having to even be on this highway in the first place, and further annoyed to be riding on the crappier half, what really ticked me off was the presence of string.

Every several feet, for probably 22 miles – to the point of complete distraction from all the stuff I should have been thinking about – there were lengths of white string laying in the road. Some of the lengths were sort of tangled up, some were outstretched. Some were pressed down into the pavement, but some were loose and sort of half-billowing/half-laying across the road.

I could not, for the life of me, figure out why it was there. Had it fallen off a delivery truck in spools, and unraveled? Come out of a garbage truck?

It seemed like the sort of thing that wouldn’t bother a cage driver one bit. But if a hunk of that string got caught up in somebody’s spoked wheel or tangled up in a chain-driven bike, well I don’t know what could happen but it just seemed potentially dangerous.

And unsightly. Why if an old Indian chief happened to be standing anywhere along here looking out over the roadway, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts he’d have a tear running down his cheek because of all this wretched string*.

Eventually, after looking at wad after wad of used string, a thought began to form that it had something to do with the paving project taking place in the other lane. As I got closer to Ottumwa, one thing I noticed about the string was that there was a bright red-orange dot of road paint every however-many feet, and on each dot was where a length of string seemed to be stuck to the pavement.

My Holmesian mind began to whir and click like a well-oiled steel trap. Or something. Clearly, a road crew person had painted the red dots on the highway. And the string was anchored at the dots. That meant a road crew person had something to do with the string, and since paving was what was obviously occupying the road crew, it stood to reason that the string was connected to the paving project.

But if the string was used in paving, and the paving appeared finished on that side, and the string was no longer stretched out but was instead either lying in tangled clots along the road or ground into the pavement… why would they leave it in the road where it might pose a hazard? Why not simply remove it? Hell, why not even re-use it, and save us poor schlubby taxpayers some money?

Anyway, the Internet is a wonderful thing. I looked it up when I came home and sure enough, there is ample evidence that string is used in paving. Just LOOK:

Evidence that string is used in road paving projects! Image courtesy rocktoroad.com, where they would not lie about such things.

Evidence that string is used in road paving projects! Image courtesy rocktoroad.com, where they would not lie about such things.

And here, we have what appears to be some math-y thing going on which is from pavingexpert.com and clearly references string.

I think it was Mr. Dann in tenth grade who promised I'd someday wish I'd actually paid attention in his class. Here is evidence he may have been right: this looks a lot like geometry. Have you checked your hypotenuse lately?

I think it was Mr. Dann in tenth grade who promised I’d someday wish I’d actually paid attention in his class. Here is evidence he may have been right: this looks a lot like geometry. Have you checked your hypotenuse lately?

So after staring at string for 22 miles and looking it up on the Internet, I’m now pretty sure the string was used in paving. I’m unclear as to why it was still there, even though it was obviously no longer serving a useful purpose. Can it be that road crews love to litter, hate motorcyclists, and loathe taxpayers?

I hesitate to paint with such a broad brush here, but you KNOW that on every road crew there’s one guy doing all the work and seven others standing around.

You’d think one of them could pick up the frickin’ string.

 

*PS -Did you know that “Iron Eyes Cody,” the Indian in that “Keep America Beautiful” PSA from the 70’s, wasn’t an Indian at all? Nope. He was an Italian from Louisiana. True scoop, I read it on the Internet.

 

 

 

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    Comments

    5 Responses to “22 miles of string”
    1. Shirley says:

      You know I love all your posts but I chuckled all the way through this one – really wish I had been with you to play Watson to your Holmes!

    2. You realize if that strings breaks, they have to shut down the operation and call the union boss to decide what to do.

    3. Corn Dog says:

      Shirley – And if we had bike-to-bike communication, we could have been speculating all the way down the highway!

      Steve – that must be where all the people were! I swear, there was road equipment parked all along this stretch of 34, but not a human being to be seen anywhere near any of it! Perhaps they were all in a meeting at the Country Kitchen, deciding what to do about the string!

    4. Sash says:

      Well I MET Iron Eyes Cody and I’m pretty sure he was truly an American Indian, considering I met him with my Indian Students Club. This is back when we called ourselves Indians. Now we’re Native Americans I guess.

      But he seemed pretty Indian to me. I was sad, however, that they had him wearing a wig. But that’s what he was expected to do for personal appearances. Of course, you can ALWAYS believe what you read on the INTERNET, RIGHT?

      LOL!

      Hugs,
      Sash
      http://www.SashMouth.com

    5. Corn Dog says:

      It’s a pretty interesting dilemma, Sash – only one of the pieces I read included the fact that Cody actually maintained he was Indian throughout his life, even after the alleged “truth” came out. Another piece seemed to imply that DNA had been tested and proved he was Italian, but didn’t say so outright. Still others claimed that various Indian organizations were aware he wasn’t an Indian, but honored him anyway because of his work on their behalf. In any case, yes, the footnote of my article above was tongue-in-cheek… sort of a nod to the State Farm commercial where the gal claims to have met her “French model” boyfriend on the internet: “Uhhhh… bon jour.” :)

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