Working as a flagger is not all sunshine and light, and we get some really pissy people who are absolutely convinced that we get a call that they're coming, and rush to put together this whole elaborate scam, just to inconvenience their day. Of course we did. Millions of dollars spent by the government just to screw up YOUR schedule. Yes, you, in the massively expensive four wheel drive vehicle, thats never seen dirt in its life.
Mostly, though, its pretty fun. I get to be outside, albeit pretty much tethered to one spot, and I get to meet a lot of interesting people, both on the crews that we work with, and people going through.
The job I'm working now, is on US highway 287. Its a fairly busy truck route, being one of more straightforward routes between I-40 in Texas, and I-25 and I-70 in Denver. (Not even the truckers want to drive in Colorado Springs!) We get a lot of traffic, and since the paving operations involve laying down a twelve inch thick slab of concrete, we have to run traffic control twenty four hours a day. We also run a Pilot Car, since, you know, theres a twelve inch slab of concrete with pieces of re-bar sticking out of the side of it for eight miles in the north bound lane, and we're running traffic up on it, or down off of it, around some culvert replacements and bridge replacements. Pain in the patoot.
On weekends, I drive the Pilot Car. Thanks to an engine blowing in the ratty old pickup that they had been using for a pilot car last summer, the owner of the company went out and bought a 2006 diesel fueled VW Bug, in mint green. She got it cheap, when she needed it, and that little sucker will run for twenty one hours before we have to fuel it. Plus, bonus for those of us who drive in circles for twelve hours at a time, its pretty cushy inside, too. Heated leather seats, Monsoon CD stereo system, sunroof, the works. Deciding she liked the concept, she also went out and bought a used Bug, silver, with purplish go-fast type decals down the sides, tinted windows, but no CD player, which makes me sad. Now I have to load my audio books on my MP3 player and buy batteries for the wireless FM transmitter, until the green one gets out of the shop. I'm so deprived! (insert dramatic wrist to forehead fainting motion here.)
So, when you roll up on our construction, if you're first in line, you get a thirty or so minute wait, a chance to chat with the flagger, and a front row seat when the little Bug with the flashy light rolls up on your end, with a big 'ol bullrack behind it. Its an amusing sight, and I see it every day.
One of the days that I was working, as I neared the middle of the site, checking my mirrors to make sure all of my little sheepies were in a row behind me, and not deciding that they knew where to go better than I did, I hear some broken-up chatter on the company radio. Now, our radios aren't the best in the world. The big units in the vehicles do all right, but the hand helds just don't reach out and touch someone every time you need them to. So I didn't think much of it, until I heard the supervisor say something about pulling them up to the front of the line.
My first thought, medical emergency. We get a few of those: someone is having a heart attack and doesn't want to go to Podunk Hospital, so they get someone to drive them to Slightly Larger Podunk Hospital, forty five minutes away. I can't really blame them, PH isn't set up for a lot of things, doing anything more than stabilizing a heart attack patient being one of them. So, I'm preparing to speed my traffic up as much as I dare, to get them through faster so I can get the heart attack/stroke/hypochondriac victim out of our site and on their way.
I get on the radio, ask the supervisor if there's anything she wants to let me know about, and she responds that all is kosher on the south end. Not a medical emergency then. I breathe a little easier and continue on my merry way, being careful to show the people immediately behind me how to dodge the pot holes caused by bog-only-knows how many individual vehicles driving over the same lane all the freakin time. And trust me, some of those potholes could swallow the Pilot Car whole. I think we actually lost a Mini Cooper in one, but by the time I got back there to check they'd patched it again.....
As I roll up on the south end, I see a plethora of motorcycles, and I perk up a bit. Nothing like a big rumbly machine that goes between your legs to get a girl's attention. Even better, they're Harleys!
I do my little song and dance of diving out of the way of traffic and only hitting the brakes once they're not gonna smack into me, which places me in the north bound lane, facing all of the traffic that has been stopped while I've been gone, and tends to make the jumpier drivers twitch, if they happen to be in the front of the line. Only then do I notice the cameras.
It seems that the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Harley Owners' Club were coming home from a rally in Texas, and because of the kind treatment of my supervisor, pulling them out of the exhaust fumes in the middle of the line and putting them up front where they wouldn't get as many rocks spit at them, and offering them all water, they'd been chatting with her. I maintain that her reasons for being nice to motorcycle riders stem less from a humanitarian urge and more from her desire to ogle the pretty bikes, as long as they're real road bikes. I've never seen her pull a crotch rocket up front.
So they decided they wanted pictures of the bug, and had their cameras ready. They got a couple snapped as I pulled in and came to a stop, and then my twisted sense of humor kicked in.
See, it gets HOT in southeastern Colorado in the summer... so I had stripped down to my sports bra underneath my regulation blind-me green vest. I slip the car into park, rummage in the back seat for my regulation orange hard hat, plonk it on my head over my S&W 1911 ball cap and climb out. I saunter to the front of the car, rip open my vest (yay snaps for dramatic effect!) and pose against the hood of the car, saying "If you're going to take a picture, take a REAL picture!"
They loved it.
I'm pretty sure I'm on a clubhouse wall somewhere, now.