Don’t mess with Texas

“Don’t mess with Texas”. So said the signposts along the Texan highway! It was circa 2000. I was visiting Texas for the first time with a friend to meet friends! We doubled up with laughter after reading the warning. Our reaction was, “No Boss! We would more than happy to be back in California! Honestly, we do not want to be here for longer. Forget about messing with you!”.

The slogan “Don’t mess with Texas” was designed to combat littering; evident from what was written below this warning. But what stuck me was the audacity of the statement. By this time, I had travelled on the tri-state highways, Californian (and adjoining state) highways. Never ever have I encountered anything so cocky. The highways in other states had an unemotional appeal to refrain from littering. Probably, Texans needed an authoritative tone. That was our conclusion!

In one of the chapters of Made to Stick, the genesis of this slogan is explained in detail. At the time when Texan was struggling with littering, a detailed study was conducted to classify the perpetrators. The study revealed majority belonged to the 18-35 year group who indulges in drunken merrymaking. The slogan was devised as an appeal to this community. The launch of this slogan was also coincided carefully engineered TV spots where famous Texans mouthed this slogan. The issue of littering fell steeply in the succeeding years.


Picture Courtesy:

Tags: Musings,Travel,Texas


  1. Well, even now we saw boards warning people from littering on the highway, with a fine of 500 dollars or even more in some high ways in the US. There seemed to be no one around yet, people there respect the law, I wish we had the same mentality. The fine should be severe and the policemen should arrest the people who offer bribes.
    Well,unfortunately I don't see such thing happening in India

  2. Don't mess with Texas! Simply love that caption. Makes so much sense :)

  3. I wish we could do something about some Indian states. Right now it is more like the messier the better.

  4. Wonderful caption and the post is excellent. Very well written.

  5. @Rama - There are multiple factors for this. There are rest areas along the highway where a traveler can stop and dump the litter. Along the highway, there is also zone which can be used for littering. This zone is always cleaned by the local authorities usually in conjunction with local/national firms.

    @RGB - It is bold and innovative.

    @Aparna - The new highways are better. But littering is not under control.

    @Babli - Thank you.


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