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Shut Up Already
I believe I've found the cause of road rage

By the Cynic



Returning home from a recent trip, I noticed an odd billboard. It was a picture of a yellow frowning face with the words: Wal-Mart costs you more; ALWAYS.

Some Pro-Union labor group, that just can't stand the fact that people are willing to work for a little above minimum wage, paid for this billboard. 

Now without getting into the nuances of why organized crim…err, I mean, labor has outlived its usefulness, I do have to ask: What does this have to do with me driving home?

Billboards aren't cheap. Yes, these folks may connect, on some level, with certain people who have an affection for union labor, but in the end they will say what everyone else has been saying: "Well, yeah, but they have 24-packs of toilet paper for $3.99." So why are they wasting this space and blocking my view of the corrugated box factory? Do they think they are gonna bring Wal-Mart down?

Maybe I am remembering my youth more fondly then it actually was, but I remember when the purpose of a billboard was to sell me something. Telling me about great whiskey or where to find "down home" cooking along with those great slogans and happy people dancing about. Now it seems that the billboard painters are busy putting up signs to tell us that we aren't going to church enough. Or that some big corporation is forcing Thai people to eat spoiled radishes. Instead of the Marlboro man or the hip-feminist Virginia Slims chicks we see children's drawings telling us how "Smoking Stinks." (Just for that, I'll smoke two)

No matter which way I look at it, I am not comfortable with the idea of a fifteen by thirty foot piece of artwork trying to make me feel guilty. I have done enough screwy things in my life to feel guilty about. Baby seal clubbing is not one of them. Does anyone really want to be socially engineered by a billboard? I moved out of my mother's house a number of years ago. I'm done living under an oppressive moral influence. I hear enough bitching as it is; I don't want to read it while driving.

I am not sure what compels our society to make organized bitching so common place that it is now considered boring billboard material. Think about the other mediums and how often they are guilting you in to something. Turn on your television and in a short amount of time, someone will nag you to do something. Feed this little pretzel kid with the flies on his face. Talk to your kids about drugs. Drink responsibly. Save the Whales. Call your congressman about bill such and such. Quit stealing old people's walkers and converting them into garbage can dollies. Help Ms. Fletcher get back up. Don't drive while using your cell-phone.

Shut up already.

Ok, so here's my point. We have lost our ability to escape the complaints. We cannot watch television, read the newspaper or listen to the radio without a pet cause or a moral imperative being rammed down our throats. Instead of a short three-hour car ride with the windows down and the radio blaring, I get a crash course on social awareness. Am I crazy for wanting the highway to be my sole haven from the complaining that pervades our culture? 

Luckily for me, this is a regular trip and I know what the signs say before I get to them. I also know that near the end of my trip, there is one billboard that always puts a smile on my face. It's small, it's on painted plywood, and it simply states:

Get US out of the UN

I guess they ain't all bad.

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See also: Out go the lights by Alan Caruba

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