My hearing must be bad.

I left an umbrella in an office last week, and when I went back to get it, the lady said, “Glad you didn’t need it.”

What she meant was, “I’m glad it didn’t rain,” but I heard “Glad you didn’t eat it.”

And even though I was very, very glad I didn’t eat it, I knew I was old.

My sight is a lot better as long as I have my glasses.

However, I don’t really need them to see all the red tape caused by Hurricane Ike.

I don’t know a lot about hurricanes, but I have seen some red tape.

Perhaps nothing equating the Hubble Telescope or the $8,000 hammer bought by NASA, but it always happens in threes.

There is a courthouse somewhere in Orange, where a sign said, “Help keep restroom clean Please flush Thank you.”

The usual staff jokester came along, took his pocket pen out and added the proper punctuation.

On my next visit, it was changed accordingly to the tune of your tax dollar.

Well it wasn’t much, I said. Only a 10-cent piece of paper.

It reminded me of when I worked for KPLC in Lake Charles.

In a small hallway, there was a suggestion box.

It was very plain, and just sat most of the time.

Geared to improve working conditions and morale, it really only had messages from the devil and Santa Claus.

One day, my boss asked me to check the box.

Two greeting cards were signed “Satan” and “Santa.”

But yes, there actually was one suggestion.

“Paint the suggestion box blue.”

Not long after, the box was painted blue, and I’d wager there was more than one meeting to come up with this.

Managers have a lot of pointless meetings. There’s red tape in those too.

Finally we have the Cove Lane fiasco.

An exit ramp off Interstate 210 was paved, then unpaved, then paved again.

This went on for quite awhile. When it was over, someone at state level decided it should have “speed bumps.”

So they were put there. But not in the right place.

The old ones were taken up, and new ones put down close by.

Another crew came around to erase the mistake.

The government calls this “misappropriation.”

We call it red tape.

[Robert Hankins is at]