Back in North Carolina an entire subculture has grown up around its most powerful entity, the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The old joke: what’s the state flower?
The Highway Barrel.
Another: why do highway workers sew their shirt pockets on upside down?
To make it easier to lean on their shovels.
The old bumper sticker: North Carolina, ‘First in Roads Last in Education’.
You can pass by any work site, and whatever time or place you drive in the state you will find them plentiful, and be rewarded with an astonishing assortment of Standers, Leaners, Talkers, Starers, and Men Sitting in Trucks.
Thank God for South Carolina, because now that we are finally rid of the Head Bathroom Monitor, we can once again point just south of us and say, welp, it’s weirder down there.
And entering Folly Beach, South Carolina, already the silliest place in the state – and possibly on earth - a major highway project there could well look like a Hieronymus Bosch Print during Mercury in Retrograde on Friday 13 under the Full Moon on a King Tide.
And so it did.
Returning after an outing to the real world, suddenly the whole of Center Street, and one and only main drag into town, had been transmogrified into a B-Movie Set after the controlled explosion had gone terribly wrong.
They had put out highway cones all right, but all over the place, not in a straight line, and trucks, blocking all the lanes that were theoretically being worked on, and barricades – to every single turn off the main drag.
One man with a scarf round his head was waving, but you couldn’t tell whether to stop or go forward, back, or sideways – actually you could do none of those things - or just give up, get out of your car, and throw your arms up in the air alongside him.
So waving back I started to negotiate the blockades.
A hundred yards on and I found the actual construction area, or scene of the blast perhaps, but now a personage in charge did reveal himself.
He held no tool or implement but only a wire attached to his ear, and his body jerked uncontrollably. Perhaps he needed help or was trying to relay a message?
We stopped, which we had to do anyway as he was directly in the one vaguely operational lane, for a closer look.
He was one of the workmen for sure, but he wasn’t exactly minding his job, or the traffic for that matter.
What he was doing was playing Air Guitar.
We took it as another positive sign to continue.
Next up, blitzing out of a side street, long hair flowing behind him, was, I can only surmise, a local getting into the swing of things by riding a day-glo hand-painted lime green bicycle, arms above his head on the high riser handlebars, practicing his slalom moves around the cones.
Like the Air-head before him, his loco motion spoke of a hidden synchronicity, if only we could see it.
He moved on effortlessly and out of sight, a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.
We had reached our turn, and by a miracle we were through the morass and clear.
But not finished, oh no, not on Folly.
Turning with the light we were treated to a final twist to the mystery, as the first car waiting to turn at the light had a Teddy Bear strapped to his grill.
This last revelation proved the kicker; as now I must, and can, and will face The Truth.
Everyone on this island, Jack, is just plain Bonkers.
Photo credit: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.