Although it put up a valiant struggle, the bolt holding a blade on my mowing deck finally yielded.
As I looked at the damaged threads, however, exasperation cut short my sense of triumph – now I had to run into town to purchase a new bolt.
This shouldn’t take long, I consoled myself, shaking debris from my clothes before climbing into my van and setting off on the day’s second trip to one of my familiar haunts, Ace Hardware. As I was flipping on the turn signal for the angling road into town, I was surprised by a road closed sign and barriers at the railroad crossing – impediments put in place since morning.
No big deal, I thought. I’ll just turn at the next intersection and head in on Union Street.
“What the ....” I cut the exclamation short when I spotted the same barriers at my next planned turn, my blood pressure rising as I realized I now had to travel all the way to Main Street to simply get to Ace Hardware at the northeast corner of town.
Of course the stop light at Main Street turned yellow just in time to stop myself and the SUV ahead of me. Of course the light took forever to turn green. Of course the driver ahead of me was not paying attention and failed to proceed as soon as the light turned green. Of course an approaching car made us wait even longer. Of course the cones on Main Street slowed down traffic. Of course the driver ahead of me blocked the left turn lane at Main and Mulberry Street, where I wanted to turn to make the long trek back toward Ace Hardware, so I was unable to avail myself of the left turn light. Of course I had to wait for the single line of cone-constricted traffic to pass before I could make my turn.
And of course, once I finally reached the store and made my purchase, I had to make the long trek back to Main Street, to be of course slowed again by the accursed cones.
Yes, welcome to road construction season.
For what seems like forever I’ve been battling the Main Street orange cones that for a time made parking at the post office a real impossibility. This was a daily source of aggravation, as the post office is a vital part of my book publishing endeavors.
Anyway, I made it home, put the new bolt in place on the mower and moved on to the next blade. And, of course, I stripped the head trying to remove the bolt.
Faced with the prospect of enduring the long roundabout trip for another new bolt, I abandoned the project for the time being.
Instead I decided to drive to son Joe’s house to return some tools I had borrowed.
Of course when I approached my turn to cross the railroad tracks, at the crossing just east from my earlier trip, I saw my way blocked by barriers at the crossing. Of course I found the next crossing blocked as well. Of course the next one also was blocked.
Of course I had to go further east before I finally found an open crossing, forcing me to backtrack to reach Joe’s – and of course I had to make the long roundabout loop on the return trip.
It all brought back memories of a nightmare day that seemed like a month traveling through Louisville, Kentucky. I was returning from a quick trip to Alabama for a family funeral, and as I neared Louisville one lane was blocked off by the accursed orange cones. As the road widened coming into Louisville the number of lanes blocked off by the cones kept pace, slowing traffic accordingly.
The odd thing was, I did not see a tiny bit of evidence of road work taking place, not even a solitary piece of construction equipment.
Finally the road reached its maximum width, but the orange cones continued to take over lanes. Finally traffic came to a stop, and the road was down to one lane. To the right were several lanes of perfectly good roadway, blocked off but perfectly passable.
A couple of hours later, my vocabulary expanded by words best not included here and my senses dulled by much- more-stop-than-go traffic, the cones disappeared and I bid Louisville a bitter adieu. Not once during that entire journey through the expanse of orange did I see a single bit of road construction taking place.
I couldn’t believe that my time, and the time of my fellow travelers, had no discernable value to Kentucky traffic planners. Those cones could not have waited until the actual work began? To be honest, I actually felt violated.
Of course I realize that road construction is a necessary evil. When potholes nearly shake the fillings from my teeth, I am forcibly reminded of the necessity.
Even so, believe me – in my mind the emphasis remains on the evil.
Don Allison is a Williams County native, author, columnist and retired editor of The Bryan Times.