The other day I came home and I was extremely startled because there was a City of Greensboro worker in my living room and he was putting in a traffic island and a “Ped-xing” sign. When I walked in, he was sanding down the concrete and straightening the yellow triangular sign with the picture on it of the stick-man walking awkwardly.
And I was like, “What in the world are you doing? You can’t put up a traffic island in my living room!”
The man said, “Sir, there are people walking through this area all the time – and the City of Greensboro has determined that safety concerns demand it.”
The worker then told me the city had now finished putting the islands up every 20 feet along every road in the city and so now the city was putting them in homes. He said that virtually every living room in Greensboro would have traffic islands by the end of the year.
I continued to protest. I told him that you can’t just come into people’s houses and start putting up traffic islands.
That’s when he stared straight at me and said, with an extremely serious look in his eyes: “Sir, we are the City of Greensboro – we can do WHATEVER we want.”
So, now, annoyingly, every time I go from one end of my house to the other, I have to walk past this giant concrete traffic island in the middle of my living room and see the bright yellow Ped-xing man that is, quite frankly, a little creepy when he’s inside your home.
This is the exact same pattern the City of Greensboro followed when it had its mad passionate love affair with four-way stop signs a few years ago. At that time, the city made every intersection, bike path and dirt trail crossing in town into a four-way stop. The other day, on a half-mile stretch of a city road, I counted 16 traffic islands and 12 four-way stops before I threw my hands up in the air in frustration, and that’s when I had my revelation. I realized that this is just one tiny symptom of a much, much bigger situation. It hit me that it’s not just traffic islands and four-way stop signs – no, not by a long shot.
Here’s the astonishing revelation that hit me like a ton of bricks: The City of Greensboro is not crazy and is not acting without thought; instead, this is an active plot by the city to keep us disoriented and submissive.
If you think about it, everything about this town is crazy. Think about the traffic lights. Just drive down Battleground (or any city road).
Stop and wait. Drive 30 more yards.
Red light. Stop. Wait again.
Drive 40 yards. Red light. Stop.
Repeat at every intersection.
At first I thought: Isn’t it crazy that the City of Greensboro doesn’t synchronize its traffic lights like everywhere else in the world. But this is where it starts getting weird; because, after paying very careful attention, I realized the traffic lights in town are in fact highly synchronized. They are synchronized to assure that everyone going down any road hits a red light every time and then remains there for the longest time possible. Drive around in Durham or Charlotte or Tallahassee – anywhere – and then drive through Greensboro and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
And then I started thinking about all the other things they are doing with the roads that only make sense when you understand the city is trying to keep us dazed and confused. They are redrawing lanes, making one-way streets two-way and making two-way streets one-way, making bike paths wider than car lanes, digging up random pieces of road in the middle of the busiest parts of the city for no reason and taking down helpful signage and replacing it with signs that are either patently wrong or that display nonsensical gibberish.
I’ve lived in Greensboro my entire life and for decades I’ve driven to the airport and back, but now I literally cannot drive to the airport and get back home. Now, if I go to the airport, it’s a nine-hour trip home. The signs don’t tell you where to go and I always end up in either Winston-Salem or Virginia. Right now, if you ask Siri to give you directions home from the airport, you go straight into a road construction barricade that blocks off a torn up road, and Siri keeps telling you go keep straight for eight miles, which you can’t do. So she has no idea either. I am not even sure there is a way to get home anymore. (Not to mention that they keep changing the name and then changing it back again.)
This is not some sort of absent-minded mismanagement. This was no boating accident. I assure you this is a coolly calculated sinister plot to keep the citizens of Greensboro off-balance, passive and under control. These are willful, purposeful acts by city officials and those in charge to keep us disoriented, discombobulated and dismayed so we are easier to hoodwink and subdue into submission, like cattle.
After I came to this realization, all the previously confusing things began to make perfect sense. Like the city’s instructions each year to put your leaves on the curb by Nov. 2 because “We will pick them up either before Nov. 23 or after Nov. 23.” What the what? That doesn’t mean anything. Please, for the love of all that is holy, just tell me when you are going to pick up my leaves. You don’t have to conceal and protect my leaf pickup date like it’s a nuclear launch code. Even the evil cable repair people give you an eight-hour window of when they might show up.
But the city is doing this to keep us off balance.
If you’re still not convinced that this is what’s going on, just think about this utterly astonishing fact: Our city hall is a giant maze! Who else has a maze for a city hall!? Why would you do something like that?
I knew I had seen the outside staircase arrangement of the Greensboro city hall building somewhere before, but I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it and then it finally came to me: The staircase pattern at city hall was taken directly from an M.C. Escher painting.
Why would you make the center of city government a puzzle wrapped in an enigma sprinkled with paradox powder. Each year, an untold number of citizens go there to take care of city business and they are never seen again. The last time I went in city hall, I came across a Japanese soldier who didn’t know the war was over.
You go down there to deal with a water bill issue and then it is like a grand journey in The Wizard of Oz, and then when you, amazingly, finally get to the man behind the curtain who knows something, he tells you with a chuckle that the water department you seek is not even in that building. Because why would anyone think the water department would be in city hall?
Alice felt much more grounded and better oriented in Wonderland than I do in city hall, even after they had slipped her the acid or PCP or whatever it was.
I had to cover a Greensboro City Council meeting one night and they got out about 11 p.m. and I was lost for a long time trying to find my way out of the deserted building. I finally found an elevator and took it down as far as I could and I saw an exit door and went out. I found myself trapped in a horrible empty underground parking deck with no way out. I turned to go back into the building but the door had locked behind me so I was just trapped in a giant concrete tomb.
Listen, trust me, this is all about the city powers keeping us confused and off balance and wanting to let us know on a daily basis who is in control. For instance, have you ever asked yourself why there’s no set schedule for your recyclable can pickup? Why is recyclable trash picked up completely at random? As it is now, you just have to put your recyclables can out on days when you feel lucky and keep your fingers crossed.
You know for a fact that it wouldn’t be impossible to put that on some sort of regular schedule because they have the trash pickup on a regular cycle. So why can’t the city also pick up recyclables on, say, one particular day once every week, or once every two weeks, and always do it on that day so you know when to put it out. That would be too easy.
But, like I said, they want it like that. They like it like that. They want to keep us off-balance, on-edge, overly confused and under their thumb.
I assure you that none of this is coincidence. We are nothing but people-sized versions of the clueless rats in the giant maze that goes by the name “the City of Greensboro.”