I want to thank someone, but I don’t know who.
That someone has saved my life a number of times and many other lives, too. He or she deserves our accolades. In fact, we should erect a statue, or induct him or her into a hall of fame.
For the sake of this column, and since we don’t know who he or she is, let’s make it simple and call him or her Master R.
Master R is a very important person. Just as important as whomever created a vaccine for polio or antibiotics for infections. Not only that, but Master R is still very relevant, an hour-by-hour lifesaver, and yet there’s no record of who Master R is or what his or her impact has been on our lives.
And that’s why Master R gets no credit, much like an offensive lineman in football or a janitor at an elementary school. It’s a thankless existence.
You see, Master R is the one who invented roadway rumble strips and, if you drive an automobile and have done so for any great distance, you know that he or she has saved your life at least once.
And what are rumble strips? Officially, they are a road safety feature designed to alert inattentive automobile drivers of potential danger, by causing a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the vehicle interior.
There are many types of rumble strips, but for me the most important ones are the rolled-in, milled-in or formed rumble strips that are roadway indentations created while the asphalt or concrete is still in a moldable form. They are placed in the center of roadways, near the center stripes, and at the edges of those same roadways.
They’ve saved countless lives. But we don’t really know how many. They’ve saved my life countless times.
You see, I’ve driven just short of 20 hours from New Castle, Wyo., to Los Angeles nonstop before, 15 hours from Portland, Ore., to Los Angeles many times and a million other lengthy routes. Heck, I’ve driven almost 14,000 miles since early December until now.
Just the other day, a friend of mine was telling me how he’d recently driven in a terrible snowstorm and that it was only the feeling of the rumble strips on the left-hand side of the road that kept him on the road. Yet no one seems to know who invented rumble strips.
We do know that they were first used on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey beginning in 1952. But we don’t know who developed the concept or initiated their use.
How is that possible? We know who invented paper clips and yet we don’t know who invented life-saving rumble strips?
Then again, maybe Master R didn’t want to be well-known, didn’t want to be famous, didn’t care about being wealthy and didn’t harbor a lot of pride? Perhaps Master R is a fine example of humility for us all.
It reminds me of a quote by former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson who said: “With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings."
In the end, Master R blessed us all. For him or her, that alone might have been enough.