I have a friend who has been in the construction trade for decades. He has headed up projects constructing entire subdivisions, as well as road and bridge construction. He is now nearing retirement and for whatever reasons the company to whom he has given his life is now treating him badly before he exits. He has been demoted from his multi-faceted responsibilities and lately they have him working as a “flagger.” I should say, standing around and being bored out of his freakin’ mind as a flagger. No offense to any flaggers, but a chimpanzee—on an off day—could perform the job. (If you can earn that kind of income--read further-- doing what you do, more power to you.)
I didn’t realize this but apparently the state regards “flagging” so difficult that certification is required. Flagging 101. “Class, we will devote the entire morning to the intricacies of turning the sign. Write this down: turn it to the side that says GO when traffic can resume; turn it to the side that says STOP when you want traffic to, uh, stop. Now, in groups of two’s practice this maneuver with each other until you can do so without notes.”
He feels humiliated that he may very well finish his career in this capacity. Maybe that’s the whole purpose of the company doing this. One of my favorite sites for sarcasm—despair.com—offers this “demotivator:”
I think that’s their attitude--dead wrong, but thoroughly convinced.
It gets absurdly funny. He tells me that a flagger will start out at around $28 an hour, some of them working 14-16 hours a day, time and a half on Sat., and double-time on Sun. Here’s the “welcome to America” moment. At some of the bridge or RR crossing construction sites flaggers are standing at attention with their signs for 8-16 hours but, get this--the road is completely barricaded, closed to all traffic. There are no “flagees,” only a solitary flagger. I think this is absolutely brilliant. Only in America
Maybe there’s a metaphor here. Am I “flagging” a non-existent crowd? Do I get on any one of my personal soapboxes and provide answers to questions people aren’t asking? Am I intersecting with the traffic of humanity around me or am I off in my own little world waving irrelevant signs? Am I on roads no one is traveling, not because I'm so advanced but because I'm clueless?
And why am I waving an abrasive sign in someone's face, anyway?