Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Dawn rolled over and slapped blindly at her alarm clock, groaning. It seemed like she’d just gotten to sleep, and now the lying damn clock said it was time to go back to work.
There is entirely too much morning in the day, thought Dawn, as she swung herself up into a sitting position. She didn’t want to move even that much but she knew if she laid there and thought about how much mornings sucked she’d just fall back asleep and then be late for work.
“Ugh.” Dawn scrubbed at her face with her hands, trying to rub enough feeling into it so that her eyelids would work properly when she told them to open. Finally she pried her eyes open and glanced at the window.
Still dark. There ought to be a law against this kind of cruel and unusual work practice.
Levering herself up from her bed Dawn groped for yesterday’s jeans. Once she slid them on her brain started catching up with the fact that she was, in fact, awake, and planning to stay that way, and it functioned well enough for her to find the rest of her clothes.
These jeans will work for one more day, it’s not like I’m going to a beauty pageant or anything.
Stumbling out of her bedroom Dawn made a bee-line for the coffee pot, and breathed a sigh of thanks for the technology that let her set everything up the night before and have fresh, hot coffee waiting when she woke up.
Slowly, while sipping her coffee, Dawn gathered the things she’d need for work today. A sweater to put on before she left the house, her hat, a bandanna….
Crap, I forgot to bring the new bandannas in. This one is disgusting, I have to do laundry tonight. Oh well they’re in the car, I can grab one when I need it.
In the bathroom she avoided looking in the mirror while she was pulling her short blondish-brown hair into a pony tail. She knew from experience that nothing good came from looking at herself at this time of the morning, and preferred not to spend the rest of the day thinking about the bags under her eyes.
Third day straight was always the hardest, with her body and her mind worn down.
Draining the last of her coffee, she snagged the cooler she’d packed the night before and headed out the door.
Ice. Mt Dew. More water.
Driving to the convenience store- just barely open for the day- Dawn ran through the list of things she needed to get, and added an energy drink to get herself woken up some more before she hit the site.
I’m too young to feel this old, she thought, as she paid for her purchases and arranged the ice, water, and Dew in the cooler around her lunch and the drinks that already inhabited it.
Closing the trunk she pulled open the back door of her car and snagged the cord of the amber strobe light, drawing the light itself to her and attaching it to the roof of her car by the magnet, before she climbed back into the driver’s seat and headed for the jobsite.
Once she spotted the first of the bright orange signs on the outskirts of the site, the rest of her brain switched on.
Weird. That color seems to put everyone else to sleep, either sitting in line or coming up on it. It always wakes me up. Maybe it’s because I know that it’s more than just my ass on the line out there.
Dawn shied away from the morbid thoughts that followed that one, memories of accidents and near misses, horror stories and the looks on people’s faces when they talked about picking up pieces of people they knew.
Bad way to start the day, Dawn. Don’t think about that crap or you’ll be jumpy all day, and make mistakes.
“Hey, Twiggy!” As Dawn rolled up on the south end flagger, she saw that relief had been made here already.
“Sup. Boss Lady on site already?”
“Yeah, she’s around somewhere.”
“Where are we on relief?” One of Dawn’s responsibilities was making sure all of the night flaggers got to go home before they collapsed from exhaustion. If someone from the day crew didn’t show, she’d relieve the person left behind until someone could be called in.
“Everyone but 116, but it’s not quite six yet, and I think I see that one coming right there.”
Dawn glanced in her rear view mirror, and saw a car pulling up with its hazards on.
“Yeah, that’s her. Cool, I get some more time to wake up. I’ll go find Boss Lady and climb in with her so I can take a nap.” Dawn smiled beatifically at the flagger, who gave her a mock glare and a one-finger salute before she drove off.
Dawn glanced at the sunrise as she motored off, seeing how it silhouetted the equipment on the east side of the road and painted the stuff on the west side in reds and golds. These were her favorite moments of the work day. Before the noise and the diesel smoke, before crises and politics. The site almost looked pretty at sunrise, like it didn’t any other time.
Somehow today it just wasn’t as peaceful, though. Dawn looked back at the road and saw the turkey vultures circling, and repressed a shudder.
Stop it. There’s road kill all over the place. They’re just coming in for their morning snack of whatever got killed overnight. It is not an omen, a sign, or any other superstitious nonsense.
Dawn glanced again at the circling scavengers, and the thought she’d been trying to avoid snuck in.
The last time I had this feeling, I broke a radio from ditch diving and landing on it, because some idiot in a pickup “didn’t see me” and danged near hit me.
She shook off the bad feeling as she saw the bright orange truck, and pulled in beside Boss Lady.
Deal with it when… if… It comes.