Called on

April 2, 2009

My backward y was almost next morning’s announcement.

My backward y was almost next morning’s announcement.

That is what my 5-year-old mind led me to believe anyway. We were constructing one of those holiday cherishables in kindergarten class when I found myself in a glue groove. We were supposed to stick our elementary portrait in between two small pinecones on a green piece of wood. I dabbed the Elmer’s with the touch of an elder craftsman and applied just the right pressure to make the pine ornaments firmly affixed without any devastating crunch. You could take a level to the alignment; it was bubble-balancing perfect. All that was left was the signature of a true artist. I ran the permanent marker below my portrait like the steady hand of a surgeon. It simply read: Billy.

Not only did I create a product that should have been put behind protective glass, but I sped it through production before most of the other kindergartners could work their safety scissors around their Kodak paper. My teacher worked the over-the-shoulder critique, as she always did, and when she got to mine I heard no words, but an enthusiastic gasp.

“Billy, do you mind if I show this to a few more teachers,” she shouted.

I just shook my head no; the excitement of being bragged about sunk me into this humbled stupor. I mean, this could have led to bigger things: a minute of glory standing up in front of the class, or better yet, a few seconds of greatness over the school’s intercom system. Grammar stardom was going to make my last name as obsolete as mat naps, it would be just “Billy” from now on.

Then an overzealous classmate cut the wires to my ego buzz.

“She isn’t showing that around because it’s good or anything,” he mocked. “You wrote the y backward and she just thinks it’s cute because it’s wrong.”

In my defense, I was a “young” 5-year-old (my birthday is in September), but the truth is nobody wants to hold the stage if it comes with a plastic covering to deflect a rotten vegetable or two.

With the passage of the economic stimulus bill, the road and bridge industry was handed its green piece of wood, and President Barack Obama was quick to pull it to the front of the nation shaking its hand in the air.

If President Obama was going to put this industry’s name in lights, then he should have done it on Broadway and not Broad Ave. Just under $26 billion is a bread wafer for road and bridge contractors. By now, most have already wiped their mouth of the relief. What was needed was a belly-busting $70-80 billion.

There is still the reauthorization bill to be forked, but the sector has already been told to be kind to the waiters and waitresses of this bill. Any false fly in the soup could lead to a nasty spit on the entrée. Of course, the money is really in the hands of governors and mayors, and an unnerving scenario played out in the state of Utah in mid-March. Lawmakers threatened to wipe out $2.2 billion in road and bridge projects in Utah and Salt Lake counties because representatives serving those areas were refusing to support an increase in the vehicle-registration fee. I do not believe stimulus money was at stake, but similar threats could be issued. If they take their eye off the ball, whether that be in the form of abusing funds or simply dismissing them, the road and bridge industry will be the one standing in disbelief. In baseball, that’s a backward K.

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