Tuesday, June 26, 2007


When I was younger, we rescued a Rotty pup, and named him Max, for Maximus.

This dog was bigger than my brother and I combined, but he never hurt us, no matter how wild we got when we were playing with him. My brother would wrestle with him, and Max would ALWAYS win, by the simple expedient of sitting on him.

Me, I rode him like a pony.

Of course, Max was also the reason that we put in a six foot fence.

At that point my parents were running a restaurant, and we had a house right across the parking lot from it. When Max was a puppy, we had a typical four foot chain link fence, and it wasn't a problem. When he got bigger, though, it started to be a problem.

See, Max liked people, and he was smart enough to realize that the cafe was part of our territory, and thus part of his. We never had a problem with him being aggressive with people, but he did frighten a lot of them.

Max, being a big puppy, decided to get out of the yard and go say hi to the customers that pulled in to the cafe lot. And soon, he started taking the slower ones by the hand and leading them to the front door, and then back out to their cars.

He always delivered the right person to the right car.

Of course, the older people got a little startled when a hundred plus pounds of dog came bounding up to them, grabbing their hand, even if gently, in a mouth full of teeth and slobber, and leading them up to the door of the cafe.

Max graduated to being Truck Dog for one of the regular truckers that came through, my brother and I lost our wrestling partner, and we were left with an empty yard...

But not for too long.

My first reader question, yay!

Kate said...

I've got one!!!! *waves hand*

Okay, it might seem like a stoopid question, but what makes the determination whether a pilot car is used or not? I was in a line-up this morning (bridge repair) and one of the sign folks had a pilot car next to her, but it wasn't being used - at least not then. Are they only used if it's miles of repair work?


In Colorado, whether or not a pilot car is used is determined by the state engineers who draw up the plans and specifications for the job. In general, we only use a pilot car on 24 hour concrete jobs, although I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule. I don't have my Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) handy to look up the federal regulations on it, I'm not sure its covered there anyway. (I haven't been brave or bored enough to sit down and read it cover to cover, as I'm not required to know everything in it... its a hand-me-down from one of my supervisors.)

You'd have to ask an engineer for the specifics on when and where a pilot car is used, but in general you're pretty close. I've never seen one used on an asphalt job, no matter how long a stretch they shut off at once.

Another method that I haven't seen used often (we've used it unofficially from time to time when the radios went down) is the token system. In this system you stop the last car you're going to let through, and give them a token of some kind, to give to the flagger at the other end, to let them know that this is the last car, and they're clear to send traffic the other way. For anyone working road construction and contemplating this method, I suggest using something that won't hurt if they throw it at you going by.

The owner of our company is currently thinking of using a "caboose" car, as well. We've been having some problems with getting gaps in the traffic lines, and the workers think that the gap is the end of the line, and get out in the live lane, which causes a danger. The caboose would solve this problem, but we're not sure yet if the state and the contractor are going to go for it. It would be a major step forward in the safety department, if we could get it implemented. As well as eliminating problems with getting out of range of the end before the pilot car is told the last two vehicles in line.

We'll see how that one turns out, though.

I hope I was able to answer your question, Kate, and I'll dig out my MUTCD and see if there is anything mentioned... you got me curious too!