Beaton: Colossally too big
The government bus guy from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority recently declared, “The eggs are colossally too big.”
I can’t argue with that.
In case you haven’t followed the bus-stop story, briefly it’s as follows: RFTA spent $250,000 in taxpayer money on each of the new bus stops — about $4 million altogether. Yes, the ones with the 16-foot stone towers with “RFTA” emblazoned on top.
RFTA wound up with what it evidently desired: fantastic, phallic monuments to RFTA. In a recent contest in these pages to name its bus-stop monuments, “Bus-ingham Phallus” narrowly won out over “Saint Peter’s Bus-ilica.” Other entries included “Mount Bus-more” and “Machu Buso.”
The bus guys assured us that their new bus stops “aren’t pricey.” You see, a quarter million for a bus stop is not pricey at all — provided it’s someone else’s money. Every dime of that was necessary, they explained, in order to avoid what they called “the prison look” of the old bus stops (who knew?).
That’s the old news. Here’s the new news: The bus stops are not finished yet, but RFTA has hatched an upgrade already. Its latest expenditure (er, I mean “investment”) is for a basket of — drumroll — concrete eggs. That’s not a typo. Each egg is about 2 feet high and 4 feet long. Some are gray, and some are pink.
Like giant Easter eggs in a weird sci-fi movie, these colossally too-big eggs will be scattered around gravel areas next to those colossally too-big stone phalluses with the colossally too-big tribute to RFTA on top.
Of course, it is only a matter of time before someone repositions a pair of the pink colossally-too-big eggs at the base of each colossally-too-big tower in order to produce a colossally-too-big concrete sculpture of — well, this is a family newspaper. Let’s just say size matters.
Each nest will be heated with underground heaters. County regulations prohibit heating the outdoors because the outdoors are so big. (Duh.) So RFTA applied for an exemption from the government regulations on the grounds that, hey, RFTA itself is the government! It is the regulator and not the regulated. The rest of us are required to do as it says, not as it does. (See “height restrictions, art museum.”)
A taxpayer (remember them?) might ask, “What is the cost of all this?” The bus guys aren’t saying. Presumably, the eggs are cheaper by the dozen. They aren’t even revealing the cost of heating them or the quantity of greenhouse gas that is thereby generated.
Here’s an alternative recipe for these government chefs to consider: If they insist on spending money and generating greenhouse gas to heat the outdoors at the bus stops, why not start with the bench where people sit and wait? While the government is poaching its eggs, I wouldn’t mind it toasting my buns.
The bus guy was asked the purpose of the colossally too-big hard-boiled gray and pink concrete eggs. He replied, “They’re for kids to play on. They’re kind of decorative, … and it kind of fits in with the dinosaur theme.”
What a great idea, kind of. Let’s attract children to the shoulder of Highway 82 by building playgrounds there! Playgrounds consisting of colossally too-big, round, heavy, concrete objects for the children to play on! And under!
The children who survive playing on and under the colossally too-big, round, heavy, concrete objects and also survive the highway traffic whizzing by are sure to increase ridership. And as Charles Darwin would tell you, those surviving children will be very fit.
Moreover, these things will protect the ditch from cars. Any car foolishly headed toward the ditch will be properly demolished good and well by the colossally too-big, concrete objects, and its occupants will be hurled through the windshield before the car gets anywhere close to that ditch. Alternatively, the car will get the best of the collision, in which case the colossally too-big, round, concrete objects will be cracked and scrambled into the patrons waiting for the bus.
Either way, a valuable lesson will be taught: Don’t try to make an omelet with the government’s colossally too-big, incubated, concrete eggs.
Fifty-eight years ago in Montgomery, Ala., a courageous African-American woman named Rosa Parks disobeyed a government order to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her single act of disobedience triggered a citywide bus boycott. Eventually, the government had to respond to the will of the people.
I’ll stipulate that the Aspen bus stops are not nearly as important as race relations. And I’ll further stipulate that Parks had far bigger “eggs” than I ever will. But as in Montgomery, this issue is indeed about the people standing up to a government that is colossally too big, colossally too rich, colossally too arrogant and colossally too stupid. This is the government that spends our money to target taxpayers for their political views, to target news reporters for reporting the news and to target phone users just for making phone calls.
I like public transportation, and I use it often. But at a time when some people are stretched to the breaking point, and we’re cutting back on programs like Meals on Wheels, these government types are spending our money on concrete eggs. Until they start caring about our money as much as their monuments, let’s send them a message. Let’s boycott their bus.
Glenn K. Beaton is a retired attorney who lives in Aspen.
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