I walk my dog every day at a park near my house. Today on the way I saw this humongous flashing sign that said “CAUTION.”
“Oh no,” I thought. “What mysterious, horrible fate awaits me ‘round yonder bend?” I braced myself for a giant pit in the road or a 10-car pile up.
Turns out that huge “CAUTION” was to alert me that a few yards down the road, four public employees from the Department of Transportation, commonly referred to as flaggers, would be at a four way intersection holding stops signs and standing right next to the stop signs that have been there for years.
Road construction a couple of streets over is causing a detour through this four-way intersection. Apparently the Department of Burning Through Taxpayer Money felt that the detoured motorists would not be able to manage to stop by themselves without the highly skilled assistance of four full-time (+ benefits) city employees.
To alleviate confusion, these diligent employees took cardboard and taped it over the existing stop signs to prevent people from stopping. This is no easy feat, because drivers can plainly see that there are stop signs under there. The octagonal sides stick out all around the square cardboard. This is a sleepy, local neighborhood street, and we are all used to stopping there. A man holding a sign that says, “Slow” just confuses the hell out of us. We have been given tickets, indeed very expensive tickets, on more than one occasion for going “slow” at a stop sign without actually making a complete “stop.”
So even though a man is holding a stop sign on a stick and it’s turned to the “slow” side, it still has a stop sign shape, and it’s right beside a real stop sign (albeit covered in scrap cardboard). Therefore, this morning, I approached cautiously (heeding the aforementioned big flashing sign) and when I got to the intersection, I stopped automatically out of habit.
The man with the sign did not like this one bit. He bent down and looked into my passenger window and signaled me frantically to keep rolling, his whole arm going round and round, as if I were the one-thousandth person to come to a complete stop already that morning. His lips were pursed, eyes bugging out, and he had a look of “you stupid woman” on his face, clearly indicating his impatience with my inability to comprehend the simple instructions on his “Slow” sign.
I looked all around, pretending to be afraid that someone from the other three stop areas might run into me if I proceeded, and this irritated him so much that I think he might have given himself hemorrhoids from the strain of trying to get me to proceed through the intersection. There were no cars within a thousand miles of the place, so I’m not sure what the big frigging hurry was, but I was absolutely in the wrong, and he wanted to make sure I knew it.
I got immense pleasure from the whole ludicrous thing. These employees have been there for months doing a piss poor job of standing in for stop signs. I’ve seen them delay people when no one was coming in any direction, like control freaks with a little power and no way to exercise it except to stop law-abiding citizens or force them not to stop, whatever their whimsy dictates at the time. Or try to make me personally feel bad because I wasn’t able to run the stop sign fast enough to suit them.
Twice a day I have to endure this for the sake of my dog. Twice a day I approach the empty intersection and have four people staring at me as they decide whether to make me stop and wait when no other car is there, or force me to speed through when everything in my being wants me to stop.
I hope they all get rhoids.