Years ago, I spent the better part of an entire summer working long hours on a highway project. It was a large patch job, which meant we repaired sections of paving over an entire area. My crew placed road closures, worked with concrete saw crews and tied the rebar for the patches. Most of our work was at night, which was the best time for sawing hot concrete. In the day, the concrete would expand and "slam" shut on the concrete blades as they sawed. Slam was the best description. When the paving slammed shut on a blade, it felt as though someone hit the paving with a sixteen pound sledge hammer right next to your foot.
We were on the last month of the project and my temper was short. Between the constant problem of dealing with aggressive motorists and drunks, I had little patience for anything. I'd had enough and I was ready for the project to wrap up and return to working days.
One evening, right at dark, we had a section of interstate to close and prepare. I was setting up the advance warning signs, which meant driving on the shoulder to the locations I had marked earlier in the evening and placing the reflective signs on temporary stands. I constantly watched the traffic in the rear view mirror. I wouldn't open the door and get out of my truck until I knew I had a break in traffic. I parked my truck behind the location so I had some protection if a careless driver slammed into the rear of my truck.
I placed the last sign, returned to my truck, checked traffic and pulled into the outside lane. There was a car coming, but it was far away and I had time. Within moments, a car was close behind my truck; so close I couldn't see the headlights. The driver was laying on the horn and wouldn't change to the outside lane. I continued accelerating and the driver wouldn't budge. I was almost to highway speed when the car whipped to the left, pulled to the side of my truck and crowded my lane. I slowed and the driver forced me to the shoulder. That's when I snapped.
Before my truck came to a complete stop, I pushed the parking brake to the floor and was out the door as the truck skidded to a stop. The car was right in front of me and I could see there was a passenger beside the driver. Within seconds, I reached in the back of my truck for a hardwood table leg I had found on the shoulder a few days before. I picked such things up to throw away later. If left on the shoulder, a passing truck could hit the object and turn it into a missle.
The driver opened the door, stepped out and found me standing there with my club. The shocked look on his face meant he realized he had just written a check his ass couldn't cover. He was a big fellow, but in my state of mind, he didn't have a chance. He knew this, so he started running his mouth about his wife (the passenger) was late for work and I had pulled in front of him as he was trying to get her there on time. I asked if he wanted to go to jail, or something else. He cursed me, climbed back into his car and sped away.
I stood and stared for a moment when I was startled by a voice: "Are you okay?" I turned to find two members of my crew, out of breath and pumped up with adrenaline. They had run a thousand feet when they saw the event unfold. I didn't realize I had some backup. It felt good, especially when I started working over the thoughts of what I would have done if the driver had pulled a gun. All I could say was: "The crazy bastard cut me off." and mumbled something about he was late for work.
They climbed into my truck, we went to set up the lane closure and the rest of the night went without incident. I half expected the motorist to come back to cause trouble and kept a close eye on traffic during the night. Nothing happened, which was good. My temper was still short; maybe shorter. I just wanted the job to be over. I'd had enough.
In Case You've Wondered
My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.
If you're here for the stories, I started another blog: scratchingforchange.blogspot.com
One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.
I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
For a Few Minutes, I Lost My Composure
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Good grief. Sounds like there was potential for things to get much uglier. Glad to hear you didn't have to use that table leg, although, some people may very well deserve a good lesson and only understand when taught by brute force. I think about that motorist and wonder in disgust just what he was thinking pushing you to the side and stopping if his wife was late to work. What a load of crap. If he had time to slow down and take you on, he'd have had time to slow down and drive safe. Grr!ReplyDelete
I've crossed the paths of some strange people during my work on highways, including a woman with a shotgun.ReplyDelete
Was half-hoping I'd be reading about how you worked over his car with that table leg as he watched in utter terror, though that would've undoubtedly meant your job and likely a few nights in jail. But it's true, some people just don't get it until confronted by brute force.ReplyDelete