The Parable of the Road Construction

Road Construction

The Parable of the Road Construction

a parable of our day by Debra Woods

The ruby red Camaro was coming too fast to allow time to swerve into the other lane to go around the bikers, so we slowed to a near halt to wait to pass the bike team. "Oh! When are they going to widen this road and put in a bike lane?!" I asked for the umpteenth time. "With all the new housing and business in this area, this little two lane road is completely inadequate," the venting continued. "And there needs to be sidewalks along this stretch so all these kids can walk to school and the library!"

"Yes, Mom, we know. You say that every time we come this way."

Later that week, as we were hurrying to band camp, I got my wish. Well, sort of. As we came over the little hill going about seven miles over the speed limit, we saw the big orange signs "Road Construction Ahead." There were at least 30 cars just idling in a line waiting for a flagman up ahead to give them the signal to pass through the one lane detour set up for both directions of traffic to share. The ten minute ride to the school was dragging into 25 minutes already. Since we were late to begin with, the tension in the car got thick. It didn't help when once traffic finally started moving in our direction, the flagman flipped his SLOW sign over to STOP just two cars short of us to let the long line of oncoming traffic take their turn. When we finally started through the detour, I rolled down my window and wearily asked the flagman what all this mess was about. "Puttin' in a center lane, a bike path and sidewalks, Ma'am."

"Gee, Mom, they're finally taking your advice," my son tried to cheer me up.

"But did they have to start on a day when I was running late to begin with!"

The road improvement project took all summer and dragged into autumn. There were only two routes to choose from to get to the part of town where the schools and my favorite shopping areas were located. Either way you went, there were major slow downs, and it became a constant source of frustration. For the first couple months we kept forgetting that we needed to allow extra time for the traffic, and ought to avoid going to that part of town during rush hour at all costs. So time and again we were late for meetings and what not. When school started, the bus picked up the kids in our neighborhood 15 minutes earlier than the year before. We didn't figure that out till the third time the kids missed the bus.

Slowly, but surely, we saw the work progressing, till one morning I was rushing the kids to school after missing the bus when we realized there were no orange signs or yellow steam rollers, or piles of broken up pavement. The sodding and landscaping was done. The lines were all painted. The debris was all cleared. And best of all, traffic was actually moving at the posted speeds with long spaces between cars. It was so peaceful and pleasant that at first I didn't even realize why I was feeling so good. As we approached the intersection heading to the school, I said, "Hey, they've finished the road construction!"

"Mom, it's been like this for three days," said Max.

"Whoops!" exclaimed Bill, "I forgot to tell you. Since the roadwork is done, the bus is going to pick us up 15 minutes later in the morning."

"Later? That explains why no one was at the bus stop this morning. You didn't miss the bus, you were early for it!"


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