Construction ahead…and behind…

Published 9:31 am Monday, August 8, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

   It’s enough to make grown men cry. This goes for grown women, too, as well as others licensed to drive in this land of the free and the home of roads under construction. (Okay, throw in the unlicensed drivers, too.)

Weeping may be the least we can do. Health professionals confirm that gnashing of teeth and grabbing for flying insects that aren’t there–as well as unintelligible babbling–are symptoms on a lengthening list.

Sales of medications to calm nerves are at an all-time high. Down deep–and often high up–we are given pause, wondering if it is really worth it to get from point “A” to point “B.” Usually, we think it is, eager to add “points” all the way to “Z.”

Some take to blogs to express frustration, as does Jen Hatmaker, author/speaker/wife/mom and unapologetic Christian. She lets it all hang out in her response to a billboard on Interstate Highway 35, a stretch she reviles near Austin. Its message reads: “One day you will love I-35. Until then, drive safely.”

Jen begs to disagree, saying, “…I have lived along the I-35 corridor since 1987. I will tell you when I will love this highway: Never. Never is when we will love this stretch of grief and broken dreams.”

Oh, but that’s just the beginning.

She has kept stats, claiming her loss of salvation 28,307 times. Her new “highway boyfriend” is the nearby toll road, where the speed limit is 80 MPH and “no one is ever on it.”

Jen admonishes the getting together of its act, and, “not to be under construction for once in your natural born life. Stop making good Christians curse and swear. Just act right….Quit drinking and get your life together. If the middle wants to get to my beautiful, perfect city, they have to come through you, and you are making people want to break up with Austin.”

Then she blurts, “How dare you? So no, I don’t believe you. One day we will NOT love I-35 unless it goes to counseling, repents for its sins and cleans up its life.”

Jen should never think she has the “hate franchise” for I-35 construction. Folks on the same highway entering Fort Worth from the north have similar beefs, and many drivers using the segment daily have few options. Some have none. News recently released that the project will be completed by 2018 offers little consolation.

Maybe drivers stuck in traffic should find ways to use their time creatively. How about nail clipping? (No, not toenails, unless your name is Jack, and you are both nimble and quick.)

Be on the look-out for creative billboards. Some of the best are by funeral homes, including: “Don’t text and drive. We can wait.” Another claims, “Let us urn your business.” Still another: “Put down the guns, stop doing drugs, and don’t drink and drive. We don’t want your business. We can wait.” Finally, this one, for reverse psychology, I suppose: “Text and drive.”…

Another option is to print a bunch of those old Burma-Shave fence post ads. Just pull ‘em out for pleasant perusal when traffic is at a standstill. A favorite: “Within this veil–of toil and sin–your head grows bald–but NOT your chin.”

Consider copying some of Jen’s blogs. Her creative writing is in the vein of the late Erma Bombeck. (That’s a strong endorsement.) Think, pray, ponder, organize and forgive when everything stops. Try to rank t-shirt messages, such as: “Behind every successful principal is an exhausted assistant principal.”

How about a quick daydream about being one of the 5,000 folks who live in McGregor? A road sign–in place there for decades–reads: “Highways are hazardous. Holy cow! If you lived in McGregor, you’d be home now.” And a warning in Hondo pulls no punches: “This is God’s country. Don’t drive through it like hell.” A gentler message has made west Texas motorists smile for generations. The sign reads: “Stanton, Texas. Home to 3,000 friendly people and a few old soreheads.” Finally, this “oldie” from the 1940s: Speed Limit: 60 MPH; Studebakers, do the best you can.”


Dr. Newbury is a speaker/author in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.