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Don't Mess with Oklahoma Either!

"That ain't my sidekick, that's my lawyer."
as told to the Editor by Ex-Ranger X
They shoe horse
Like that catchy title? I didn't write it. It was a bumper sticker on the back of a pick-up I stopped outside of Sherman back in 1986. I was just gonna ask the driver where he got it, but he had some unpaid warrants and when I tapped on his window he shot me in the neck.

I won't do that again.

The reason I'm writing this is the current stink about the "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan. I saw it on the national news - and I have to say it didn't sit well with me.

Texas doesn't get mentioned very often on the national news unless, of course, you count somebody having a standoff with the Feds, running over their husband in the parking lot, hiring a hit man to kill their daughter's cheerleading rival's mother (say that three times real fast!) or one of those screen-door Jesus stories. No, they don't like to waste their time on the good things that happen here - like our mosquito and fire ant festivals, our movie star / death-row inmate workshops or our spring break beach picnics. But they love negative stories. That's why I'm wondering why the highway people are feeding it to 'em on a plate. They seem to be sending the message: "Don't Mess with Texas - but laugh at us all you want."

Now, you must know that Texas is the "Friendly State." That's the official motto and it's even been on the licence plates. I admit it's not as good as Idaho's "Famous Potatoes," but we like it. Why? Because we are friendly! (and we don't have famous potatoes). "Don't Mess with Texas!" is a little on the belligerent side, though - and I'm afraid some folks might mistake that for our motto. I know for a fact they hired an advertising agency for that slogan, and as a Texan, that sticks in my craw too. (For people out there who know my identity, don't think this article is sour grapes. I know now why my entry (Mess with Texas and We'll Shoot You in the Neck!) was rejected.

The whole thing reminds me of Shiner, Texas and that little brewery down there. Shinerites are some of the nicest folks I've ever met. ( Just don't confuse them with the Fez-wearing men who drive those tiny cars in parades.) The brewery wanted to advertise on a bigger scale. So what did they do? Hired a big ad company in St. Louis to tell the world that Shiner beer is "Brewed with an Attitude!" I don't know about you but I like my beer brewed by well-adjusted, gruntled employees. It's my humble opinion that people with attitudes just might put some extra ingredients in it - if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

This TxDOT notification to various companies and organizations to "cease and desist" probably cost some taxpayer money too. I doubt if they're foolish enough to take "mom and pop" to court - but if they do - they'll be egged on by the national networks hungry to embarrass Texas again.

Before the lawsuits start flying, however, they might want to practice by hunting down the guy who made those Don't mess with Oklahoma, either! bumper stickers. If they can't get him - then it opens the door for all sorts of circumventing slogans. What if Mexico starts using "Hey! Over, here! We are a whole other country!" Or Belize starts using "We can prove we're a whole other country."

See what I mean?

There's a lot going on in Texas government and not all of it takes place in the Bahamas. Yes, I'm talking about last Spring when the Governor, his staff, and others flew down there to "hammer out" the school budget. They were determined to stay there if it took days - weeks - months.

Recent budget cuts have caused some agencies to remind the public of their importance so they can continue to be funded (paid). The favorite bureaucratic cliche for all outgoing mail and press releases is: "we take our responsibility very seriously." They'll bring this responsibility thing up at the drop of a hat - even when nobody's talking about responsibility. I haven't heard one communication from a state agency that didn't say they take their responsibility seriously. I think it even came with my driver's license renewal. For all I know there might be a Texas Department of Taking Responsibility Seriously (TxDTRS).

I'm waiting for the Legislature to come up with "Legislation with Attitude!"

Of course this whole "cease and desist" thing might be to divert attention from the other important TxDOT projects like removing highway exit signs mentioning smaller towns, installing signs to advertise private wineries, cutting down the last ten trees in the Panhandle and planning the new Trans-Texas corridor to bypass the towns that managed to survive previous bypassings.

I've been asked how I get my information down here in Mexico (did I mention it's a whole other country?) and I'll say for the record I can't reveal my sources. But "they" work at TxDOHOACTTFU. And believe me, don't mess with the Texas Department of Hiring Outside Ad Companies to Think For Us, either. They will shoot you in the neck.

John Troesser
"They shoe horses, don't they?" >
September 1, 2004 Column

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Readers' Forum:

Your text: "Now, you must know that Texas is the "Friendly State." That's the official motto and it's even been on the licence plates." is incorrect. The "Friendly State" was suggested for license plates, but the response from Texans was overwhelmingly AGAINST - and was withdrawn.

The Texas Motto is "Friendship" - get it right.

Utah was "The Friendly State" in 1948 - NOT Texas. Texas is "the Lone Star State"

"Don't Mess with Texas" - works fine for me. - Howard McCleskey, Victoria, Texas, December 27, 2005
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