Thursday, June 17, 2004


Sullenly, I tucked my flag under my arm and reached into the back pocket of my Dickeys for my already-soaked hankerchief, dragging it numbly across my forehead and neck. In the heat, my arms felt heavy and limp, like the shot-bags filled with lead we used to weigh down the road signs along the construction area. Last year, during one of the windstorms we get here that blow up from the south like a steel-mill blast-furnace, a couple of those signs got blown down in front of a family of vacationers from the coast. It sent their rusty Ford station wagon into the ditch, tossing luggage everywhere and scaring the kids pretty bad. Jimmy, the foreman, was pretty shook up too and hollered and cussed us the whole time we were helping to get the old heap's bags loaded back up on top again and back on the road. We knew not to take it personally, though. The heat out here makes everybody edgy, and Jimmy was scared we'd get sued for not weighing down the signs. He ran back and forth barking and yipping at us like one of those Mexican chihuahua dogs, veins and eyes bulging and desperate. When we were almost done and Jimmy wasn't looking, we mugged around and winked at the kids, who were all wet-faced and dripping snot from crying. Jimmy even gave 'em a couple of those red nylon flags me and the other new union recruits wave around at passing cars- all to keep them from filing a complaint on our crew with the suits in the main office. Twenty-two man-hours, my road-flags and half a day burned up in the searing heat, just 'cause the sandbags weren't heavy enough.

You better believe we weigh 'em down now. Four bags filled with lead shot on each leg. Six if there's even a little breeze.

"It's gonna be another one of those summers," I sighed, watching the distant signs dance liquidly in the shimmering swelter and weakly wringing out my hankerchief before tucking it back into my sweat-stained pocket. A sedan was coming up a little too fast, and I shuffled out to wave my flag ...


Blogger HeadCheese said...

I was thinking of my friend, Dianne, of TeamDandy ( I wrote this. "Heat and Hospitality" was going to be the original title, based on the two things she seemed to remember most from her stay down south with my wife and I several years ago.

June 17, 2004  
Blogger Dianne said...

Very cool! (yes, I notice the oxymoron) Did you just write that? If so, I'm exquisitely impressed by your ability to write that well at the drop of a hat on a specific topic and yet make it not the same as the topic itself, but very relevant (see, I'm not a writer :-)

June 17, 2004  

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