Some people just know how to take a potentially stressful situation and turn it around so everyone around is laughing and relaxed. I was able to observe this principle in action this week in one of the most surprising ways. On Thursday, they were doing some road work at one of the busiest and most confusing intersections in our little city. This intersection is not the busiest in the entire city, but it is the busiest and most confusing in the entire city. It is one of those strange designs where three streets join and none of them are perpendicular, so there is no exact street corner. Add to this the addition confusion of a couple of side streets joining this intersection, but not exactly at the intersection, and a mini mart sort of deal with a parking lot with exits and entrances to the main thouroughfares right in the middle of the mess and you have the potential for some really incredible accidents or backed up traffic. I’ve experienced both. Put a flagger and some road repair people out there and you have the perfect recipe for long waits, confusion, frustration, tempers and the like. Of course, I would never become annoyed at a situation like this, because I just use it as an opportunity to a.) finish putting on make up if it is on the way to work and b.) text one of the kids about the afternoon plans if is after work. I’m pretty good at making the most of those little minutes at stop signs in my traumatic 7-minute commute each day. It’s just too bad I don’t do this with the rest of my day, but I digress.
On Thursday, the city had men out surveying this particular area of the roads and it created even more than the usual confustion. As I pulled up to the flagger, who was directing three directions of traffic with a sign that only had two sides, “Slow” and”Stop”, I thought this could be interesting. I braced myself for a long wait and cracked my window a bit so I could hear his instructions if I needed to.
The first thing I realized was he was yelling at the commuters! Not in an angry tone but in a theatrical type easily projected voice. It really got my attention. I rolled my window down a little more.
“I’ll get you through in just a minute!” He yelled at the guy in the oncoming lane as he frantically motions to the people in the other oncoming lane to hurry up. “Hurry up! We don’t have all day!”
“Okay, your turn!” He motions to me and I shift my car into first (I always forget to do that when I stop). “Oh, too late!” the flagger said as he flips the sign facing me to Stop. He looked over and smiled, “You’ve got to be faster than that!”
By this time I was cracking up. I eventually got through that intersection and headed on my way to work.
Later that day for lunch, my student teacher and I decided to go out somewhere instead of eating the school lunch of the day. Of course, we had to pass the flagger again. As we approached the bizarre intersection I told her to roll her window down for a good laugh. She did and sure enough Flagger Comedian was in full gear.
“Hey! Won’t be too long now!” he yelled at us. He was right. We were on our way before we knew it in spite of the conjestion and confusion. As we drove to lunch laughing at the guy I realized a really great life lesson: People who are really good their jobs and who make work fun really rock! I loved going by that road work mess all day long!!!! The longer I was stopped the better I liked it. This guy was great. Really!
That guy took a potentially tense and disastrous situation and turned it around just by having fun with it. He didn’t change any of us. He merely infected us with his humor and demeanor. Not one person at the intersection while I was there was angry, ticked off or upset. Traffic ran smoothly and no one waited excessively long.
I wonder if he’s that much fun at home?