By Susan Govern
I’m a traveler. Not really a commuter because I’m not working at one specific place anymore, but I do travel a lot by car and that could explain why the color orange has been becoming my least favorite color over the years. There are exceptions – Cleveland Browns orange and brown, and Autumn pumpkins.
The orange I refer to that I dislike is “orange barrel” orange.
There’s nothing like the frustrating feeling of driving to a local store which should take ten minutes only to have it turn into considerably longer because of the dreaded “road work zone”. Zigging and Zagging around orange barrels just to find the open driveway to the shopping center makes me feel like I’m part of a giant pac-man game, or a lab rat trying to get to the cheese. When at last I reach my destination I should at least be greeted by cheering for not flattening a construction barrel (or two).
Driving on the highway is even more challenging during construction season (also known as Summer). Nothing is better for getting the heart pumping than cruising along a highway at 65 to 70 mph. only to suddenly see red brake lights a short distance ahead because four lanes are funneling down to two (or one) in a construction zone. As I pray my brakes are in good working shape, and my life flashes before my eyes, I also feel at least a dozen more gray hairs pop out on my head. Take note – Scarlet and Gray are ok, orange and gray just make for a bad case of nerves.
As traffic stops then begins to move ahead in slow starts and stops, I sit in my car and ponder the meaning of life. Face it, what else is there to do when stuck in a highway traffic jam?! As many times as I’ve been directed slowly through lanes designated by barrels, by now I should have come up with a plan for world peace, figured out how to really feel better when you have a cold, and solved the mystery of what really happened to Amelia Earhart.
Get your driver’s license, see the country, live life in the fast lane. Ha! The person (or persons) who came up with those sayings never bothered to warn drivers about all the road hazards out there on the “open road”.
Sure, I’m always up for a road trip. Say the word and I can be packed and ready to go in just a short time. I love seeing new places and meeting new people. Taking highways that criss-cross our great country, or even better, taking back roads that lead to small towns with interesting history is great fun as far as I’m concerned. However, when I say I like meeting new people, I don’t necessarily mean while at a complete stand still in a highway work zone.
Some traffic delays I’ve encountered over the years are so long I’ve seen people meet, get to know each other, and become engaged all in the time we are stuck on the road. Ok, so I’m exaggerating – but not by much.
I remember one long delay in particular. We were returning from Columbus to Twinsburg and coming north on Interstate 71; we were not far from the Mohican State Park exits when we saw brake lights lighting up in front of us. Coming to a stop (and praying people behind us would do the same), we looked ahead as best as we could and saw nothing but a “sea” of cars and trucks. No one moved – no one moved for a very long time. It was still that time of year when the weather was warm enough to run the A.C. in the car…but being stopped that long we found that to keep the engine from over-heating we needed to turn on the heater in the car. Windows down and heater on…can you say “frustrating”?!
The interesting part of the experience is once we finally started moving at a decent speed instead of inching our way forward – stopping – then inching forward again, we never did see any reason why we all stopped in the first place. No evidence of an accident…no orange barrels…just open highway. My theory is Aliens landed, talked things over with some truck drivers who warned them to watch out for orange barrels, and then they decided traveling on Earth would be to troublesome for them so they left. Lucky them…I don’t think space has construction zones.