Be Prepared to Stop…this is kind of funny.


Lately there has been a lot of construction, road paving, weird things sitting on the side of the road and walkway building going on in town.  Most of the time people feel rather annoyed since it disrupts their order, creates change…or makes them late.  A few years back our whole downtown was overhauled and there was a ton of complaining…largely because the small businesses were already tip toeing on the edge extinction and there were tiny dust storms blowing through the unpaved streets on a daily basis. But we survived and the change was such an improvement everybody agreed it was worth it…well almost everyone I’m sure.  So these days I try to be patient, slow down and smile at the folks trying to earn a living in the fluorescent vests…

because at one time I was one of them.

Let me explain…my father is construction. When little kids were sent home to ask their parents what they did for a living so we could report back at school for sharing time…my answer was construction but more specifically “dirt & pipe”, as my father so eloquently stated with his North Carolina drawl.  I’ll never forget uttering those words, my face already flushed knowing what they would sound like coming out of my 7 year old mouth.  I would have preferred to tell my teacher and classmates that my father built skyscrapers, houses or grocery stores but that was not the case.  However, what I did not understand was that my dad was responsible for the groundwork for all the above and his expertise was extremely important to the entire project running smoothly.  Of course my dad is pretty modest…(dirt & pipe!?!) so I never knew these things until I worked for him and to be honest I really didn’t grasp the concept then either.  I was more focused on the details of earning $6.50 an hour for what could be considered torture to a 20-something girl, not to mention the social circle you become immersed in. (Rural Men ratio 9-1) Fortunately I have thick skin and a broad sense of humor...these should be listed on the job application as required skills.  I can’t recall why I was working there at that specific time, other than perhaps they needed a receptionist fill-in or someone to make fun of.  I did have a job waiting tables and was making lovely amounts of dollars. Perhaps I needed some drama in my life (working with family can be strenuous) or maybe I was finally considering taking on the family business (highly doubtful) either way I got some great stories out of the experience and here is one of my favorites.

flag person

That day I had been recruited for a road project going on Florida Park Drive.  Back then there were only a few roads connecting the north side of Palm Coast so there was a ton of traffic.  My dad needed another flagger and I was nominated.  Normally when I was in the field I could be found driving around a super sketchy pick-up with terrible brakes, full of diesel fuel to accommodate the machines on job sites.  Or I would get sent to various sections of  North Florida (boondocks usually) to pick up parts, which for some reason (87% of the time) turned out to be the wrong part…even though I had been provided with the correct part needed as an example. I do recall my father once saying that it was going to be a shame that the first person he ever had to fire was going to be his daughter.   I clearly remember acting like a brat and basically pitching a fit about this being the last thing in the world I wanted to do as we drove over to the job site.  But a choice was not one of my options so I was dropped off with my cute orange vest, flag, stop sign and radio.  Mind you when I dressed that morning I had no idea what was in store for me…I thought I would be meandering around the office…so I was wearing cute denim homemade cutoffs, my thrift-store polyester sleeveless top and clogs (which actually had air support because I have crappy feet.)  Ironically the day actually turned out to be rather awesome as the sun was shining, my flag partner Gary and I were cracking jokes over the radio and I made it my mission to make all the folks passing by smile. The bonus was an occasional shocked look on a familiar face once they recognized the person behind the flag.  And then came the School Bus…

It was near the end of the day and the bus was coming towards me through the construction zone. It was obvious their turning radius was much wider than all the regular vehicles and they would require more space…so I started to back up the line of cars on my side.  The important detail in this story is that at some point that afternoon I had removed my shoes. They were probably sweaty and the warm pavement was so inviting, I prefer the style Barefoot.  I had placed my shoes out of the way by my traffic cone, however, the bus driver was not aware of this. As the large orange/yellow Bluebird swerved around to get back into their correct traffic lane, the back end didn’t quite make the cut and it proceeded to clip the cone and promptly run over my shoes.  The whole scene was like a slow motion horror flick as I looked on, frozen, unable to rush over and rescue them to safety before they met their impending demise. The only sound I could hear was the air being squeezed to death out of my super comfortable cushioned soles. “A school bus just ran my shoes over”…is the next thing I said over the radio.

flagger ahead