There were three things that caught my attention as I was running errands this past Sunday. Instead of writing about them separately, I decided that, since they all happened on the same trip (and in fact, before I even reached my first destination), to combine them into one post.
The first incident was almost immediate. It may have been thirty seconds after I left my apartment that I had to stop at a red light, which was okay, since you can turn right on red (after a stop, of course). However, for the next four signals I had no such break, as I was continuing straight on the street I was on. So, each time I went a block, I had to wait at every intersection, because each light turned red before I got to it. The lights were timed in such a way that if you didn’t catch the first one, you were guaranteed to hit each successive light when it was red, making a trip that should have taken less than a minute closer to four.
The cynic in me has long believed that most municipalities set speed limits artificially low, hence giving the local, county or state government easy targets whenever they determine it’s necessary to send a cop out to patrol. You know, for safety. Many others will tell you short-span yellow lights and red-light traffic cameras serve a similar purpose.
Honestly, I don’t believe poorly-timed stoplights are deliberate attempts to frustrate drivers into breaking other road laws. Most likely they are oversights, signs of underfunded (or badly run) road maintenance and safety departments, or simply benignly neglected.
Yet, the ones that I deal with where I live now are better than those that I had to put up with where I grew up. Horribly timed as the ones in this town may be, at least they are necessary; I can’t tell you how many times I had to wait a minute to a minute and a half at a stoplight for absolutely no one back home.
Since they now have lights that can adjust the length of rights-of-way based on traffic flow, it would be nice to see these used in more places around here (and everywhere, for that matter). If this town can’t afford that, at least they could get their civil engineers to figure out how to change the timing of the lights to make sure it doesn’t take someone five and a half minutes to go seven blocks. I mean, they had to learn some math while they were getting their degrees. (Wait. They do have degrees, right?)
This Waitress is Rated PG-13
Not too long after I finally made it through downtown, I passed a restaurant called “Show-Me’s”, which is pretty much what you expect it is, since I did explicitly say it was a “restaurant” and not an “establishment”.
We know what to expect from its patron saint, Hooters (okay, “patron saint” is a terrible choice of terms): A live atmosphere, mediocre food, and good-looking young women in tight shirts and short shorts. Given the name of the restaurant and what it is slang for, you can guess another attribute of most of the servers there as well.
I’m pretty sure Show-Me’s doesn’t quite live up to its name; in other words, I don’t think the servers in there almost certainly won’t be removing any clothing (nor do I think all the servers in there are from Missouri). However, I appreciate the name more than Hooters for one reason; there’s no pretense.
Sure, Hooters doesn’t really have any either, especially if you’ve seen their television ads. When Hooters Air launched, we were all pretty sure as to what the flight attendants would look like, and that there wouldn’t be too many coming over from traditional airlines. However, as flimsy as a case it is (weaker that someone claiming he only reads Playboy for the articles), you can make an argument you go to Hooters simply for the food, because Hooters honestly does push their food from time to time, as useless as that might be.
Neither Hooters not Show-Me’s are really my type of place. I have nothing against eye candy, mind you, and I neither condone nor condemn what they do. I would simply find the server either unnecessary or distracting, depending on when I went. (I would also feel kind of pathetic, frankly; I do believe some kind of argument can be made for the food, but I would know if I was more interested in eating, there are plenty of better restaurants I could have gone to.)
Nonetheless, I find the bluntness and honesty of Show-Me’s moniker refreshing. When you see a restaurant named Show-Me’s, they are outright telling you what they are business to do, and why you might want to stop by. In cruder terms, the selling point is: “We’ve got women with big breasts. Come in and see them (the women, the breasts, whatever), and have a burger and a beer while you’re at it.”
Just don’t ask me to join you. At least, not when I’m hungry.
Church Marquees: They’re Anvilicious!
The third thing I want to talk about was a church marquee I noticed. Personally, I generally find them to be the religious equivalent of public service announcements.
I despise normal PSAs to the point where I will change the station if I even think I am about to see or hear one. The underlying assumption of all of them seems to be than everyone is an idiot. Their attempts at “educating” the public are as close to worthless as you can get: the people who need to listen will ignore the advice, the people who might actually listen to the message don’t need it. For example, there is no one who sees seat belt enforcement messages who buckles up because of them; either the viewer already does or says “screw you, I don’t need a seat belt.” Basically, they serve no real purpose other than to give the illusion the sponsors of the message “care.”
Church marquee messages and slogans are very similar, with two slight differences. The first is obvious: they are trying to deliver a believer’s message, so the belief of the potential target’s idiocy, or perhaps more accurately in this case, ignorance of (perceived) truth shifts from being secular in nature to religious. And so if you are Christian and you read one of those messages, you might nod your head as you’re doing it, possibly hoping, as the people who come up with those displays are, that more people will read that message and “get right with the Lord.” Problem is, that if someone isn’t inclined to go to church, the threat that, say, “Judgment Day is coming”, will not send him into panic or even make him think twice. The other difference is that the right message, phrased well, might get the lapsed churchgoer to return. That makes them slightly more effective, but almost guaranteed to be no less asinine.
The message of the one that caught my attention was “If you disown God, he will disown you.” Amazingly enough, that could work on someone who believes in a less-than-benevolent God. A message like that just might scare such a person into subservience, even if it is out of fear rather than love. (And it would continue to work as long as said person fails to understand the mutual neglecting of feelings between he and God did not and could not start with him.)
However, to have that intention would take finely-tuned thinking, and most of the people who come up with those marquee messages are about as subtle and sharp as a sledgehammer. There are religious people who are sophisticated enough to understand that agnosticism is different than just not believing in God or that Buddhists aren’t evil and think about what they believe, but almost all of them are doing something more worthwhile than coming up with marquee messages. Your typical believer feels that you either accept and worship their God or reject him, and those are almost always the ones who regale us with their “inspirations” on the church’s front lawn. Hence, the intent of the “disowning” message becomes like any other religious PSA: Useless to the believer, irrelevant to the non-believer.
There are plenty of intelligent Christians out there. Perhaps some day I’ll see something one of them wrote that rather than the predictable rhetorical garbage that makes its way onto those marquees week after week.