The Idle American: Roads Scholars



Who can ever forget the old Burma Shave Sign: ANGELS WHO GUARD YOU WHEN YOU DRIVE, USUALLY RETIRE AT 65.

A Texas automobile driver was “tooling” down a rural highway on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Most motorists had already reached destinations, or maybe decided not to go. He felt alone, not another vehicle in sight on a long stretch of pavement.

Suddenly, flashing lights in his rearview mirror were strong indicators that he wasn’t alone. Further, he wondered if his definition of “tooling” might run sideways with the definition understood by the Department of Public Safety trooper ambling toward his parked vehicle.

The nameless driver–whose thoughts and actions almost always come down on the side of the law–squirmed. His brain whirled with possible excuses to fall back on….


   His hands gripped the steering wheel with a chokehold. He began his spiel.  “Officer, I’m sure that I may have been driving a little too fast, but I do want you to know that I am a licensed owner of a firearm that is ‘locked and loaded’ under my seat.”

He wasn’t dealing recklessly with the truth but figured the trooper would appreciate knowing about his pistol if he decided to search the car.

Smiling, the officer explained that a recorded speed of 75 MPH in a 60 MPH zone shot holes in the offender’s claim of merely “tooling along,” but that this time, he would issue a warning ticket. “And by the way, thanks for supporting the second amendment.”…..


Don Newbury

Another favorite “on the road” story concerns a driver who also was “tooling along” some 10 MPH over the posted speed limit.  What lousy luck, he thought, this unexpected “cop encounter.” He knew he’d never hear the end of it–too many witnesses, he thought. His wife was alongside, and three elementary-age children were engaged in “backseat combat” in whatever contest least resembled the quiet game.

Just before the DPS guy reached his car, the driver hurriedly buckled his seat belt. The officer in tall boots and eyeshades proceeded with his usual greeting: “You were speeding, and I’m giving you a ticket.” He warned about the danger of speeding, closing with an unexpected compliment. “But I do want to congratulate you for wearing your seat belt.”

It was the driver’s turn to speak: “Thank you, officer. I have long felt it to be important to wear seat belts, knowing that they save many lives and prevent many injuries.  I always wear mine.”  Then, the officer answered–emphasizing the word “always” in the same manner. “Do you always run it through your steering wheel?” (And then there was the driver who claimed to “ooze” through a stop sign. “S-T-O-P doesn’t spell ‘ooze’,” the trooper contended as he issued the citation.)….


   Permit me one more “coulda-happened” road story. Let’s set the scene: A long-haul trucker was driving slowly over a mountainous pass in a snowstorm. Suddenly, a lumberjack-sized man waved for him to stop.  The driver felt sorry for the man who faced real danger–if not death by freezing—if he didn’t stop to render aid. The parable of the Good Samaritan flooded his mind, so he stopped, offering the stranger a ride.

The hitchhiker began yakking. “Exactly ten years ago tonight, I was hitchhiking on this very road.  I hailed down a truck that looked much like yours. I was much bigger than the trucker who gave me a ride, and I beat him up severely, kicked him out, and took over his truck. I was arrested at a truck stop a few hours later, went to trial, and was institutionalized until my release this morning.”

“I remember you,” the driver said….


   Before ending these “road stories,” I wonder how many remember the clever road signs nailed to fence posts by Burma Shave?

Did you know that many of the “ditties” were written during college years by Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men?



Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly.  Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

Don Newbury is the author of Mostly Mort, providing the wit and wisdom of the bard of the Big Thicket in Texas. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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