Early every summer, without fail, workers swarm out across our roadways and start tearing them apart with their heavy orange machinery. This is done in the name of repairing our streets..
In order to protect this small army of workers, select individuals are clothed in a specially designed neon orange vest and matching hard hat. These chosen few are given the title of Flagger. They are then bequeathed with a long wooden pole with a bright red “stop” printed on one side and an equally bright yellow “yield” printed on the other. With this strange scepter in hand, these Flaggers are given ultimate power.
Being a Flagger is a dangerous occupation. Their job is to step in the path of what can be two tons of charging machinery, operated by an impatient or inattentive driver. Most Flaggers take this responsibility seriously. They diligently and courteously direct the flow of traffic. There are others, however, that let it go to their heads.
This morning, a crew of workers had blocked off one side of the road that I always travel down. I saw the Flagger flip his scepter around to the stop side from several yards back and immediately started slowing down. Apparently the Flagger thought I hadn’t reacted quickly enough and started a frenzied waving of his pole back and forth as if to catch my attention. I was still about five car lengths away from him and barely moving when the Flagger began to glower at me and arrogantly held up his unoccupied hand in the universal signal to “stop.” Not one to back away from a challenge, I obstinately continued to let my car roll one more car length before coming to a complete stop. I was well away from the Flagger and of the workers he was sworn to protect.
As I waited for the all clear to go, I fumed at the self-exalted Flagger. How dare he be so rude and dismissive of me! I glared at the white-bearded, rotund man just daring him to start something up. After a few minutes of ignoring me while I stewed, the Flagger turned to me with a twinkle in his eyes and bowed to me as he gallantly gestured to me to that it was safe to move forward. Then, to my amazement, he reached up and tipped his hat to me. I laughed as my pent-up anger evaporated and all was immediately forgiven.
Hmmm…maybe those Flaggers do have a special sort of magic in that scepter of theirs…