One of the many perks of living in Connecticut is the continuous road construction that is forever taking place. Every morning is an adventure in “How long will the back up be?” or “Gee I get to be re-routed,” and my personal favorite, “Let’s merge five lanes into one and wait for the fun to begin.” It was with such delight that I got to play the merge game the other day when crossing the Putnam Bridge. The Putnam Bridge spans the Connecticut river and connects Wethersfield and Glastonbury. The construction has been going for nearly three years with no end in sight. Now mind you it didn’t take three years to actually build the bridge. No, it only took about a year. So the construction that is going on must be very complicated. Here's a radical thought: build a new bridge instead of repairing the old one. You could have built three new ones in the time spent repairing the old one.
So my wife and I were heading for Boston on a Saturday because there is actually something fun and interesting to do there and had to cross the bridge. Well lucky for us everyone else was out driving and yippee, going in the same direction as we were. So we had two lanes of murderously heavy traffic merging in one lane. You'd think this was rush hour on a Monday morning.
Everyone from the soccer mom in her minivan to the mid-life crisis idiot in his two seater was trying to beat the other guy out. Think back to when you were in kindergarten and the kids were cutting into line to get a drink at the water fountain. Now put those same assholes in a car and add three hundred horsepower. See what I mean?
So as tempers flared and cars overheated we see the obligatory cop. Was he directing traffic to ease the congestion? Of course not. He was in his car texting. Getting paid triple overtime to text seems like a pretty good gig. I guess it’s too much effort to get out of his nice air conditioned cruiser and actually direct traffic. That sounds like real work to me. And, I could be way off base here, but I bet it is not as easy nor nearly as much fun as chasing after some poor schmuck with red lights flashing and sirens blasting and bestowing a massive ticket on him for simply trying to get to work.
After twenty minutes we finally pass the cop and spot three trucks. The first truck had five guys standing around chatting and enjoying the fall foliage. One guy, who must have been the youngest or perhaps was going through some bizarre ritual hazing was actually working. He is trying to pull start a piece of important looking equipment. It seems that this piece of equipment was tough to start because his friends were shouting good natured encouragement such as, “Take your time because we are getting triple overtime for this!” and “Did anyone check the gas tank?” and “Pull harder! That’s what she said!”
I’ll never know if they started that beast of a machine because we managed to creep up to the next crew of workers. These guys were enjoying the fall foliage and padding their pensions smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Hey does Dunkin’ Donuts deliver? Maybe the cop will stop texting long enough make a coffee run for these guys. "Okay ladies. Who ordered the double latte?"
We finally edge up to the last truck. Here is a group of guys with enormous beer bellies smoking cigarettes. I start to think I’m hallucinating because these workers are really doing something that I think is called work. They are cleaning the storm drains. In between puffs on their cigarettes, they are moving around with some sort of purpose and direction. I start to feel sorry for these guys because I see that they are not state workers but employees of a private contractor who actually thinks about the bottom line.
As we finally leave the bridge from hell, I immediately scrap my plans for a trip to Boston and head down to the state employment office to pick up an application for the Department of Transportation. Triple overtime and coffee. Sign me up. Best job ever!