Monday, 10 December 2007

Flaggers, Unsung Heroes of the Road.

originally posted on Yahoo 360 May 1 2007

Because we have been more grasshopper than ant for much of our lives, we end up working past pensionable age. My husband has been doing traffic control. No, the picture is definitely not him. I wrote this little article about the sort of work he does for the local newspapers.
Flaggers, Unsung Heroes of the Road.

The phone rings just past 7 AM.
A voice asks for my husband. There has been an avalanche on the road to Trout Lake and they need traffic controllers right now. He may have to be there for 10 or 12 hours, so bring some sandwiches.
We were just about to have breakfast, but within fifteen minutes he is packed and gone.

Other times the call has come late in the evening. A truck may have gone off the road somewhere, or there's been a landslide, and someone needs to be there through the night to alert drivers to the hazard.

How is a person supposed to stay awake all night without a nap in the afternoon first? Somehow they do it.

Flaggers are supposed to be able to jump into action like fire fighters or ambulance personnel, but without any of the prestige or monetary rewards.

Even without emergencies the world of traffic control is full of last minute arrangements.
It is not unusual to get a call after 9 PM, asking you to be somewhere nearly 3 hours away by 8 the next morning.

Do the math:
That means getting out the door before 5AM, which means you should have been in bed with your gear packed well before 9PM if you want to get your 8 hours sleep.

Flaggers stand on their feet all day in all kinds of weather and have to stay alert through hours of boredom.
I couldn't do it to save my life, let alone someone else's.

Then there is the danger of being overrun by aggressive drivers, and the aggravation of people who take their anger at a delay out on you.

At least many years ago it used to pay well. These days the pay is just a bit above minimum wage.
The fierce competition between contractors is largely subsidized by the low wages of the people on the road. All hail the dogma of the free market.

So folks, next time you get stopped by a flagger, don't give them the finger. Give them a big thumbs up and a thanks for an essential job well done.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments have been set to anyone, un-moderated, and no captcha. So if you were here, wave to me? Spammers will be deleted and acquire bad karma to boot.