An activist can have fun on the roadway, too. Can you imagine the damage possible if one were to substitute a road sign that read, GROSS WEIGHT 15 TONS, for the original sign on a bridge that read GROSS LOAD 5 TONS? One protesting employee did this at his employer’s Ohio plant and had materials shipments shut down for eight days.
In World War II, it was common for enemy agents on all sides to turn road signs so as to misdirect military convoys, screwing up operations. The same tactic could be used today, even if your only enemy is some governmental branch or agency.
In the annals of highway history no one has seen the equal of the many low points of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, traditionally a repository for political hacks, Mafia underlings, patronage hogtroughers, and the terminally incompetent. M. Harvey Shopp, a veteran political trickster, has all sorts of suggestions for highway fun such as painting sawhorses to look like official blockades and using them to close highways, bridges, etc.
Another of Shopp’s ideas is to produce bogus DETOUR signs and place them at strategic locations where they will be sure to screw up highway traffic.
The road woes of Allen McDonald illustrate the rationale behind these moves. Whenever the county in which he lived did road repair to the bridge near his home, they always parked their equipment in his yard. When county road scrapers went by, they piled a line of debris high enough to close his driveway. In winter, they also closed his own freshly shoveled driveway, this time with ice-hard snow and frozen slush. All calls to county officials were answered with only the uncaring and operationally impotent cluckings of the tongue.
“I decided to return some of the favors,” McDonald said. “I began to turn road and other directional signs around. I stole a couple of BRIDGE OUT signs in another county and placed them in front of perfectly good bridges in our county. I once called the local radio station and announced several road repairs that would mandate detours — telling them I was a county road super, of course — which really screwed up local traffic for a couple of days.
“The upshot is that the county got a lot of nasty calls and even more bad media publicity, and the county commissioners agreed to investigate these problems ’caused’ by the road people. Naturally, in the midst of all this I also brought up my beefs about their conduct, offering to testify at the hearings. All abuses against my property quickly stopped. So I stopped my counter-abuse program.”
Check the “Joggers” section of this book to learn about the OSS tire spikes of World War II infamy.