t was Monday. It was morning. And it was raining. The weather was gloomy and cold. I was, too.
Looks like someone had a case of the Mondays (thank you, "Office Space").
I get a case of the Mondays every Monday and usually can't shake it until Saturday. This past Monday was no different; it had been a long day, and it was only 9:30 in the a.m.
Then I met Crosby.
Crosby - "that's my first name," he said - has been working as a flagger on U.S. Highway 59 during the road construction project that had more delays than O'Hare. He can work all the big equipment that is used in road projects, but on this day his job was to stand out in the cold rain, hold one of those signs that read "STOP" on one side and "SLOW" on the other and flip it every 10 minutes or so.
Despite the weather, he wasn't complaining. I don't think Crosby's one of those guys who complains too much. If he was, he would've had plenty to gripe about Monday morning as the cold rain pelted his raincoat he said he had to pay 50 bucks for. (OK, that might have been a veiled complaint).
But the rain didn't phase him. He hates the heat more when it's combined with the hot tar. "A lot of people can't do it," he says. "They get out here on a hot day and in about two weeks they're gaaaawn."
Not our Crosby, though. He's been working road construction for decades. He even tried to lure me to joining the crew with the draw being I could make $20 an hour (more if it's a FEMA road, whatever that is, less if it's a county road).
I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider it. There are times, more than I'd like to admit, that I'd rather hang around hot tar for 16 hours a day than sit in my office.
He also told me women make better flaggers. He said he didn't want to sound sexist, but explained to me that women are more patient than men. Not touching that one.
Life slows down for guys like Crosby. A scruffy-looking man who I would guess is in his late 50s, he doesn't make much of a first impression, but he's one of those dudes who can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. And dhe had a lot to say in our 10-minute talk Monday morning as I waited for the pilot car to lead me and about 15 others through the work zone. I'm a journalist, so I let him ramble, the whole time cursing myself for not having my recorder handy. The only reason he stopped talking was because the pilot car started heading north again and I had to leave. So wrapped up in our talk he actually didn't even realize it was time for me to go. I think we both felt bad the conversation had to end - he loves to talk, I love to listen.
Time to flip the sign though.
We - he - talked about his job, politics, road work, his grandkids and ice fishing (that's when his face lit up). He said he had saved up enough money doing his thankless job that he was able to buy himself a new fish house. He ice fishes near his real home by Alexandria during the off-season (road crews take winters off) and is one of those die-hards who can sit out in a fish house long enough to forget what day it is.
Why am I writing about Crosby? Well, for starters, he's my kind of people - more Duck than Dynasty. He lives in his van during the road construction season. IN HIS VAN. He's the guy who plays Santa at Christmastime. He's the guy you call an "Old SOB" without fear of offending him. He's the guy at the bar you WANT to sit next to.
And he's the guy, who in a span of about 10 minutes, was able to cure my case of the Mondays.