Thoughts on Leaving the City of College Station

Public Works Director Mark Smith will leave the city Sept. 30 after spending three decades with the organization.  He’s seen College Station triple in population and literally has helped change the landscape of our growing city.
As I bring to a close 30 years with the City of College Station, I’m reminded that the rest of the world doesn’t see the work we do at the city the way we see it from the inside.  These are lessons that city employees need to keep in mind: give a little, don’t take it all so seriously, and remember that there are lots of different ways to see things.

The literary offerings I’m sharing below are meaningful to me, and I hope they are to you, too.  One thing I know is that Silverstein’s take on Traffic Light is not College Station, Texas.

From John Steinbeck’s The Wayward Bus:

The highway to San Juan de la Cruz was a black-top road.  In the twenties, hundreds of miles of concrete highway had been laid down in California, and the people had sat back and said, “There, that’s permanent.  That will last as long as the Roman roads and longer because no grass can grow up through the concrete to break it.”  But it wasn’t so.  The rubber-shod trucks and the pounding automobiles beat the concrete, and after a while the life went out of it and it began to crumble.  Then a side broke off and the hole crushed through and a crack developed and a little ice in the winter spread the crack, so the resisting concrete could not stand the beating of the rubber and broke down.

Then the county maintenance crews poured tar in the cracks to keep the water out and that didn’t work, and finally they capped the roads with an asphalt and gravel mixture.  That did survive, because it offered no stern face to the pounding tires.  It gave a little and came back a little.  It softened in the summer and hardened in the winter.  And gradually all the roads were capped with shining black that looked like silver in the distance.

From Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends:


The traffic light simply would not turn green
So the people stopped to wait
As the traffic rolled and the wind blew cold
And the hour grew dark and late

Zoom-varoom, trucks, trailers,
Bikes and limousines,
Clatterin’ by-me oh my!
Won’t that light turn green?
But the days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months
And there on the corner they stood,
Twiddlin’ their thumbs till the changin’ comes
The way good people should

And if you walk by the corner now,
You may think it’s rather strange
To see them there as they hopefully gaze
With the very same smile on their very same face
As they patiently stand in the very same place
And wait for the light to change.

It’s been an honor and pleasure serving the citizens of College Station.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Director | Public Works

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