Slogans on the highway
I'm sure that problem is as good as solved.
Now we need to fix the problem of me not keeping my eyes on the road while instead gazing at electronic freeway signs telling me common-sense nonsense.
Admittedly, these electronic signs not only offer catchy slogans but also warn of needless construction projects ahead. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say needless. And then we must decide whether to believe the construction warning on the sign.
Does anyone ever take an alternate route when advised to do so? Because you and I both know that construction warnings are often wrong: "Lane closed ahead" and when we get there it's wide open. Or the other way around.
There is no calamity too calamitous for a slogan. During the 1970s oil shortage, our government — or was it the auto club? — came up with the slogan, "Drive 55, Bring 'em Back Alive."
At first blush it seemed someone truly cared about us and wanted us to slow down, smell the flowers and keep our family safe when vacationing.
Then we realized the feds just wanted us to stop using so much gasoline. And later we realized there was never an oil shortage in the first place, just companies arbitrarily deciding not to refine enough oil into gas.
That was about the same time President Gerald Ford decided we could Whip Inflation Now by wearing little W.I.N. buttons.
Then there was Nancy Reagan, or her handlers, who thought we could fight illegal drug use with the "Just Say No" campaign.
And Nancy's slogan wasn't very original either. I was a single man back then and I remember encountering many young women who were already reciting Nancy's mantra. If you get my drift.
Slogans are a quick-fix, a cheap Band-aid that quickly loses its stickum.
Could we stop minors from buying cigarettes or alcohol by saying: "Show Me Your Age, and I'll Show You Mine!" (That might also work with mysterious Warren mayors).
Maybe we should use slogans to remind people to conserve energy during this heat wave. Last week, DTE said there were 7,000 homes and businesses in Macomb County without power. That's a lot of cheap dads like me telling their family to eat all the frozen food before it goes bad.
Remember the big power outage of August 2003? I vividly recall the deep effect it had on me: It postponed an Iggy Pop and the Stooges show at an ironically powerless DTE Music Theatre.
But avoiding a widespread power drain is serious business. Especially for hospitals and other 24-7 operations. Senior citizens are most at risk in the heat. Sometimes they don't realize just how hot it's become inside their home. The wonderful people at Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center always remind the elderly to not overdo it and stay inside with the air on — or head to a cooling center, like the one sponsored by the Salvation Army on Church Street.
Conservationists suggest we set our home's air conditioner at "78 degrees instead of 65." I don't see anything catchy about that slogan. Don't they know how to rhyme?
We're also told to be environmentally correct and observe Ozone Action Days. On such days we should refrain from mowing our lawns. That's fine with me, just tell my neighbors. How about the slogan: "You sow what you mow."
I addressed the gas mower situation 20 years ago when I bought an electric mower. Of course, just like "Bring 'em Back Alive" wasn't about safety, I bought an electric mower not to help the ozone but because when I was young I mowed lawns and I still hate pulling that cord to start the darn thing.
And I needed to mow lawns to earn money so I could go out on dates and listen to some girl rip off Nancy Reagan.
During the heat wave, it is also recommended that we drive less and possibly car pool. Well, we all know that car pooling never really caught on — which is probably a good thing for our local economy. We like the freedom of driving alone and that way we also get to play what we want on the radio.
I've gone three paragraphs without a slogan so how about these: "Take a Dip in a Car Pool." Or better yet: "If You're Not in a Car Pool, You're a Dip."
The old "Drive 55" slogan reminds me of a time when we could actually afford to drive far distances. Now we settle for driving down to the corner malt shoppe and if we do that while driving 55 then we're going too fast.
But at least we'll get home before the ice cream melts. Oh, that's right — it'll melt when we get home anyways because our house is 78 degrees.