Meet the George W. Bush Commemorative Loophole.
The loophole was born when Bush still was president and a certain small-handed vulgarian had a reality show and could only dream of screwing not merely a bunch of flunky apprentices in prime time, but an entire nation all the time. The loophole has continued to grow over the last 10 or so years and is now a robust four feet deep and could swallow a small car. Or perhaps the wheel of a school bus full of screaming youngsters skidding on wet or icy pavement.
The loophole has been lovingly maintained at taxpayer expense over all those years by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, known colloquially hereabouts as PennDOT, but more frequently by other names not suitable for the ears of church ladies, as it has worked tirelessly to become the most loathed government agency in the Keystone State. Which is quite a feat considering the outrages the State Store system visits on us. PennDOT is inured to criticism, besotted with nepotism, and thrives on a cocktail of favoritism, kickbacks and ties to well-placed politicians who do its bidding.
The George W. Bush Commemorative Loophole is located on scenic Poplar Valley Road West, a rural byway about three miles from Stroudsburg in the Pennsylvania Poconos. PennDOT has not merely maintained the loophole. It continues to tar and chip the road itself every few years, even though it doesn't need it, and carefully avoids the loophole each time it does so lest one of its worker drones fall into it and muss his safety vest.
The 2017 tar-and-chip season, which while not greeted with quite the enthusiasm of deer season, commenced the other day with the roar of diesel engines, grinding of gears, cavalcade of flashing lights, billowing clouds of dust and stink of hot tar, as well as the familiar shuffling procession of worker drones wearing safety vests. As the top photo shows, the westbound lane has been chipped while the eastbound lane shows the original, not-a-damned-thing-wrong-with-it surface.
Asked why PennDOT continues to tar and chip, which is a throwback to when the road was unpaved (Harry Truman may have been president, or maybe that Ike fella), a road crew foreman offered this Zen-like reply:
"Well, because that's how we've always done it."
The latest tar and chip patina will be long gone, which is to say washed onto homeowners' lawns, before the first snow flies. It is then that PennDOT really hits its stride.
Hits as in mailboxes.
The red-flagged RFDarlings to the right were clipped by a PennDOT ace in one of the numbingly frequent smash-and-run incidents on Poplar Valley Road West, this one about a half mile from the George W. Bush Commemorative Loophole. Historic picture-postcard stone rows, fences, signs, reflective markers and the occasional utility pole also can fall victim to the wrath of the plow.
PennDOT's one-size-fits-all-roads plow trucks are immense and more suitable for mountain passes in Colorado than country byways. They are more frequently seen on weekends when drivers get paid overtime and seldom or sometimes not at all if a snow inconveniently falls during the week. If it's a Saturday or Sunday -- or, God forbid, a holiday -- it is not unusual for the trucks to make multiple passes even after a light snow when there is extra taxpayer moolah to be made.
Locals well understand that if a storm doesn't take out power, PennDOT might. Then there's the old joke: What's yellow and sleeps six? A PennDOT truck, of course.
And while nothing is certain in life other than death, taxes and PennDOT's generic dysfunctionality, we can be pretty sure that the George W. Bush Commemorative Loophole will survive.