I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been to every one of the forty-eight contiguous United States. I actually lived in five of them for more than a year. I know some of you are, right now, giving a collective “WOW!” Sadly, many more of you are calling out, “Who cares?” You should care. I mean, don’t you folks go to your friends and ask about places you might be going? Well Mr. Ohh! wants to be your friend, and I promise not to borrow any money. What could be better than that? But I’m getting off topic.
You see I do a lot of driving and one of my least favorite states to drive in is the forty-eighth state admitted to the union: Ohio. You thought I was going to say Arizona, didn’t you? Nope, that’s just a lie perpetuated through the ages, by people who want to believe everything’s hunky dory, and continue to live their lies. Those folks can put-on rose-colored glasses, but the truth cannot be denied any longer. History books say Ohio was number seventeen admitted on March 1, 1803, and yes it applied for statehood on that day, Only the congress never voted on admission until August 7, 1953. What took so long? Well, I’ve been looking at property lately and I think it just took them that long to get the place up to standard building codes.
Ohio wasn’t nicknamed the Fixer-Upper state for nothing. It’s the only one that has a sign at the gate saying: Welcome to Ohio, Please pardon our dust, We’re making a better state for YOU. You think I’m wrong? Well folks, even though the walls are up, they’re still working on the inside. Ohio must be owned by some rich lady who can’t decide on tile colors, or even the freaking faucets, and please don’t get her started on the lighting fixtures.
I mean they have this road, conveniently named the Ohio Turnpike. It is 241 miles running east to west from one side of the state to the other. I think they started building it in 1804 and it’s still under construction. You’d think they’d have finished it by now, but no. I’ve driven on it many times in the last several years and have never avoided the construction. It could be a great road; long, straight and fast, except every time you reach a mile marker, you also reach a Men Working sign. It’s like Lady Ohio gets a thorn under her bustle, and says, “I’m not sure that’s exactly what I wanted. Can you move it a little south? No, north.”
In Ohio they’re building everything. It’s like one of those home-improvement shows, where the designer walks into a shabby house, rips out all the inside walls, then rebuilds it into a castle. That might be cool but the last commercial never comes and the men just keep ripping out walls and rebuild them over and over again. It’s a house flipper’s nightmare. You can almost hear him screaming, “Hold on! I fixed the electrical yesterday. Why is it broken again?”
This is unbelievable but true. There is a place in Cleveland with a huge hospital campus. They wanted to build a new research building, but there was a building on the site. So, they spent two years building a small place on another site and moved the staff in temporarily. Next they tore down the old building and built the new. It’s cool up to this point. But then they tore down the small place they had just built and built something else. Are they trying to tell me a two-year-old building is obsolete? I-Phones don’t go outmoded that fast, and those folks are seriously trying. Besides, the phone can fit in your clothing adding to the wear. I don’t know of anyone who carries around a skyscraper in his pocket, and looks at it once a day saying, “Look at that crack, I gotta get to the store tomorrow, and replace the seventeenth floor.” But this is Lady Ohio. “I know what I want. Make that short one taller, and the tall one shorter. Can you do that?”
And this isn’t even scratching the surface of Ohio’s construction nightmare. There is a highway which circles the capital, Columbus. It’s a great outer loop to avoid downtown rush hour. At least it would be if it wasn’t constantly under construction. The renovation project started about forty-three years ago. The crew was told to start at a place and go around the city. Only no one told them when to stop. Since it’s a circle the crews just keep going around and around, and since the buildings keep being renovated, they never recognize any landmarks, and consequently never know where to quit. It’s become a generational thing, “Daddy worked on I-270, like my grand-pappy before him. I’m still moving that project forward and, God willing, my boy will too.”
Maybe the Ohio planners have an artistic bent. They are seriously acting like Claude Monet. He painted a three-picture mural called, not surprisingly, Water Lilies. The story goes he worked on it for over thirty years. Sure, he did other stuff, but always came back to the three, tweaking them forever, never satisfied that they were done. Well now they hang in three different museums, unfinished, because he died. He’s probably looking down from heaven at them right now wishing he had used more blue. What I want to know is, who has to die before the state can be considered finished?
The strange thing is Ohio doesn’t mind being the Road Construction capital of the world. They have come to embrace it. I looked it up and the state flower is the Orange Construction Barrel. This is what a guy at a nature center once told me: “The Orange Barrel named Drivious Inconvenious and its cousins Pisya Offis and Gonna B Latus, have an interesting life cycle. They appear without warning in the spring, and unlike most flowers, bloom through the winter when they suddenly disappear. The blooms are bright at first but as the year goes on, they become dirty, black, and dented. They seem to have a strange repulsive quality. One thing you will almost never see near these orange beauties is construction workers. Those elusive beasts can be found on the highway but mostly gather in small groups and drink coffee. The color of these fragile things also exhibits an odd quality. The moment a human sees it, he or she is immediately thrown into a great anger. This is unique in the plant world. Most plants show color to aid in reproduction but these wonders actually seek to be destroyed by people in cars.”
Then again maybe that’s how the Ohio jobs program works. The barrels are made in Ohio. Ohio folks put them along the highway, then Ohio construction workers work on the roads. Everybody has a job.
Just another exciting example of your government in action.