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Frustrated in construction

Published July 24. 2010 09:00AM

There is a much over used cliché on my mind this week with regard to Pennsylvania although a quick search will find that it is a wise crack in many different states. I can hear the groans already but here goes nothing. Did you know there are two seasons in Pennsylvania? Winter and construction. This past week the latter made me wish for the former although air conditioning in my car makes construction delays a bit more tolerable.

I noticed there are some innate axioms about construction. First, the length of the delay one has when stopped for construction is inversely proportional to the importance of reaching your destination. For example, if you need to go to the dentist for a root canal, then you get an express lane through a construction zone with little or any delay. But just try to make the start time of a movie or some other activity and you learn a new level of impatience.

While some people I'm sure blame the poor flagperson, they should realize as do I that they have as much control over the situation as I do. After all, some foreman somewhere said, "Take that flag, walk down there and tell the guy on the other end when to let their cars pass." Their job is to keep us motorists from engaging in an impromptu demolition derby, so while I get frustrated, it is usually not with them.

After all, it is usually my own inability to gauge extra time into a trip so when unexpected delays appear, no matter how upset I feel, I remind myself it's actually a problem of my own making. If I add more time to my expected commute, then I wouldn't have this problem. Of course by the time I reach that point in my analysis, I'm already sitting in front of the avatar of my adversity, the flag person.

I do have a level of empathy for them however. I was an active fire policeman for a few years and it's amazing how many stupid and rude people there are. At my first incident, one guy insisted on running a four-way intersection refusing to accept my direction and then was rude about it. If that person happens to be reading this, they should realize that they are really lucky they didn't get themselves or someone else hurt. When a fire policeman tells you to do something, it might be wise to do it. That clown was lucky, but he could have been charged with failing to yield among other things.

Of course he isn't as dumb as a certain unnamed person who I won't embarrass, but due to his occupation should have known better when at another scene at 3 a.m., he decided that I must have been lying to him when I told him there were hoses across the street. Apparently he felt his profession gave him super powers so he drove up there to find I was actually telling the truth. When he couldn't get through and turned around and came back to my intersection, I had to shake my head.

The one advantage in all these situations is that unless you are traveling on interstates which seem to have some statute that provides for eternal construction, most jobs do not last very long. It is also good that the people in charge realize what impact construction has on traffic and in the busiest places they usually schedule it for off peak hours which is a godsend for most commuters.

To be frank although I tease about construction zones in this column, the one construction annoyance that really does bother me are those drivers who ignore traffic directions. This is the blockhead who thinks that when a sign says "MERGE NOW", it is referring to everyone but him or her so they continue down their merry way until they reach the blocked lane and only then do they try to merge. This causes the smoothly flowing traffic to hiccup and I'm sure has caused accidents.

I have one thing to say to those people, "Stop being impolite and inconsiderate morons and do as you are told." I think we drivers who try to be community spirited should just leave them sit there. After all they deserve it for breaking the rules of common courtesy. I mean does anyone honestly believe a road crew will place the "RIGHT LANE CLOSED" sign up for kicks and really leave the lane open?

Most people including myself usually take turns and allow people to merge, but not these guys. Of course their counterparts are the ones who purposely don't take turns and keep you from merging smoothly, although there seems to be less of them than the rude line jumpers.

Like everything else though construction fades away with the start of frost and cold weather which is only about three more months away. I can leave you with one thought though. The next time you find yourself frustrated and stuck in construction, keep in mind things could always be worse. You could always find yourself in the ocean after a whale jumps in the air and lands on your sailboat shattering it. This actually happened to one couple this past week in South Africa.

Til next time…

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