Friday, May 18, 2012

The Most Boring Job In the World

Flagging is most likely very high on the list of miserable jobs. You know what a flagger is. They're the person with the Stop/Slow paddle that you swear at under your breath when you see them standing there. It's involuntary, I understand. They're also the person with the most boring job in the world.

Sometimes I have the misfortune to be that person. Stranded out there. Far away from the other workers. Not knowing how the job is progressing or if anyone is still even there. For all I know, they could have all gone home and forgotten about me. Once they stick you out there, you're on your own. Just you and the guy/girl at the other end of the radio. God forbid your batteries go dead. Which they usually do at some point in the day, leaving you screaming frantically into your radio. ("THE LAST CAR IS A RED CAMRY!! DO YOU COPY??? A REDDDDD CAMMMRRYYYY!!!"  HELLLOOO???" DON'T SEND TILL YOU GET THE RED CAMRY!!!")

Busy roads are good. Pokey back roads, not so much. These are the worst. There are just enough cars to be annoying but not enough to amount to anything. And there's nothing to do. You just stand there. One hand on the radio, one hand on the Stop/Slow. There is no sitting. Break time - ha ha! There's no break time in flagger world. Break time means just enough time to run to a bathroom (the porta-john or the wild outdoors) while someone takes over for you. Then you go back immediately. You don't sit down for five minutes, you don't take 15 and play on your cell phone. When it's time to eat you get to stand there with your sign & radio and eat while the guy waiting in the beat up silver Honda that you have stopped makes kissy signs at you. Not cool man.

I spend quite a bit of my boring flagging day imagining. Like...what if all these millipedes crossing the road are really baby aliens that have been placed here to test whether Earth is habitable? How would I react if a bear, or possibly a big crazy buck, came out of the forest and started attacking me? If a pack of coyotes came along, would they eat me or adopt me as one of their own?  I also play games with myself like How Far Can I Throw This Rock? How Many Squats & Lunges Can I Do Before the Next Car Gets Here? Can I Make a Rope Out of These Weeds? Can I Make a Tiny Paper Airplane Out of My Gum Wrapper? Will It Fly?

I even have a pet rock in my lunch box. His name is Stony Jr. You can liken him to Wilson on Cast Away. I would never throw Stony Jr. or leave him behind. We have lengthy conversations on what we're gonna be when we grow up. (The answer is never "Be a flagger!" I'm going to be the person who parks cars inside the mall at night and Stony would like to get ordained over the internet or be a motivational speaker.) We think solitary confinement in prison is probably better than being a flagger. At least you can lay down & take a nap in solitary.
This is Stony Jr. He's my pal.

So if you ever think you have the most boring job ever, I want you to go to the nearest closet, go inside, shut the door and just stand there without sitting down and with no entertainment whatsoever for 12 hours. Then you'll understand why I talk to rocks.

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