Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer = Orange Barrels

Summer is many things. Think swimming pools and ice cream cones and cookouts and vacations at the beach. Think also flip flops, bare skin and bathing suits. But with all the good stuff that is summer, we also have temperatures in the 90s with 100% humidity, mosquitoes and orange barrels. Lots and lots of orange barrels.

Most of the time I can appreciate orange barrels. It is the way our community keeps roads and highways in good working condition so that our cars aren’t bouncing into potholes big enough to swallow a VW Bug or one of those weird looking clown cars, er, smart cars.

Once summer arrives, I assume I will be dodging orange barrels on my commute downtown. In a perfect world, I’d be getting up 5-10 minutes earlier every day to allow for the slowdowns and lane reductions. Not that I do, mind you. Just that I would in a perfect world.

But it really burns my britches when four lanes of traffic have been reduced to three around one of the busiest sections of highway, on which, naturally, I have to travel to get to work – and there is nothing being done to the highway. There isn’t a single worker in neon green making any headway. There isn’t one piece of large equipment in the blocked off lane to let us think that at least some progress is being made. And I KNOW there isn’t anything being done on that stretch of road because there isn’t even a port-o-potty installed in the median.

And this lane has been blocked off for the better part of a month!

C’mon people! Let’s get to work, okay?! It’ll make me a little less surly in the morning. (Well, maybe. I make no promises.)

It is, however, interesting to watch drivers along this route. There are warning signs to alert drivers that the left lane is closed about a mile ahead and that the speed limit has been reduced to 45MPH, but people still fly down that left lane at 70MPH. The middle lane, meanwhile, has begun backing up and a whole lot of brake lights start flashing. This is because the drivers in the left lane ahead finally reach the “point of no return” where they MUST merge into the middle lane.

The middle lane drivers, meanwhile, are getting a tiny bit testy because they pretty much could’ve walked faster than they’ve been inching along in their car. And now they are expected to allow Mr. Speed Racer into their lane when Mr. Speed Racer began his commute about 15 minutes after Mr. Middle of the Road.

One day I saw a big black truck ease out from the middle lane so that he was straddling the left and middle lanes. None of the Speed Racers could get by him in the left lane. Despite lots of horn blowing and middle finger flipping, the guy in the black truck refused to move out of the way. He calmly rolled along – so that all those Speed Racers had to slow down and merge into the middle lanes behind Black Truck guy.

Since I was already in the middle lane, I thought it was sort of funny. Of course, nobody who drives one of those clown cars would’ve dared tried this move. The Speed Racers would’ve plowed right over them and then later wondered if they’d actually hit something.

As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the clown cars. I’m sort of like that with new things, though, and it takes me a while to warm up to them. Not sure I’ll ever warm up to a vehicle that doesn’t look big enough to haul a person plus one bag of groceries at the same time.

(Yeah, just watch – in another 10 years I’ll probably be driving one. And, yes, I give you permission to make fun of me in 10 years if you see me in one of those things.)

In the meantime, I’ll just hope that construction work on the highway begins soon. Before we know it, the snow will start flying. And I don’t want to land in a pothole big enough to swallow my bigger-than-a-clown-car Mazda6.

And to Mr. Speed Racer? Slow the heck down, willya? You never know when Mr. Middle of the Road is gonna snap, get out of his vehicle, pick up one of those clown cars, and toss it at you.

Hey, it could happen.

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