I-565 is a splendid 8-laned, limited access highway we Huntsvillians enjoy due to the generosity of US taxpayers. We feel especially buoyant as we cruise this expressway since most of the cost was extracted from Kansas, California, Maine, etc. taxpayers. There’s nothing so sweet as stolen fruit. Well, it can be rationalized. You never know when some sharing Kansan may visit our fair town and enjoy the benefits of his tax money. Sounds fair to me. Besides the thrill of something for nothing, it’s an exhilerating fun ride because the billboards are unusually entertaining.
A local bank has a doozy. “We want to be your friendâ€. Big letters selling love and friendship as blatantly as a couple of suburban Salons I heard about in Vegas.
The bank wants to be my friend? That’s no way to make a living. Friends help friends for free. Will a teller come over and babysit my adorable Calico cat who has no account with them? Will they cut my grass when I’m stuck with gout? Will they listen to the account of my in-laws’ last visit when they burned out the light in the frig and stopped up the toilet.
Do we I-565 travellors project loneliness? I got enough friends. I don’t want a friendly bank – I want an efficient bank – I want a low interest on loans bank. I want a high interest on deposits bank. Since all this billboard bank offers is friendship, they must be highly deficient in those other three elements. Love is not a commodity in ranking banks. If I craved friendship, I’d charm that lascivious teller at window 3 and invite her to a luxurious meal and pour at least one bottle of Piper Heidsick down her lovely throat and see if she would be my friend. But that’s a service other than banking.
The next sign is not so funny. “Report Litterersâ€ it says. And there’s a phone number. At least the bank had noble intentions. These guys want to put me in jail just because the window was open, thereby creating a suction that dumped Coke cans, napkins, and fast food wrappings on this highway that my out-of-state taxpaying friends gave me. (With pals from California – who’ll build me a highway – who needs a bank’s friendship?)
They want me to be an informant. How exciting – like the CIA. So why couldn’t I just muscle over in front of the perp (that’s a new police word, you know. It’s totally nonjudgemental. Not a criminal, but a “perpetratorâ€) and mash him into the side rail. “CITIZEN’S ARRESTâ€ I’d shout.
I called â€˜em up and asked if I should do that. A horrified lady who had no sense of humor shouted, “NO, NO, just get the license number, location, and what they threw outâ€. (No, I didn’t reply “a small, diapered childâ€.)
The morality of the concept is shady. Informing on a fellow citizen for violation of a municipal code (not murder or theft or other bigtime sins). If I took it seriously, I’d report jaywalkers, too! Not to mention my Memphis friend, Herb, who hosts a Wednesday night Poker game. That’s illegal, you know, in Tennessee. Only the state can run a gambling operation – their lottery. Lenin would love the idea of citizens informing on each other. It was a concept that he and his Comminist pals fostered. We shouldn’t.