So I'm sitting at my desk, minding my own business and the business of the bird feeder, when I look just beyond to the intersection of a little road that runs off my road. This is what I see:
It is a few minutes before 9 a.m., but VDOT works an earlier day (By 3:30 p.m., they're on overtime). Okay. I get that a project must be discussed before inception, though you'd think such discussion would have taken place prior to actually arriving on location. I had no idea what the project was, since there never appeared to be a problem at this particular intersection.
Twenty minutes later:
More people are required to discuss whatever it is. Is the speed sign crooked? What?
Finally, having discussed the matter for 45 minutes, a truck of paving material arrives, the road is reduced to one lane and the smell of tar wafts through the air. This carries on for about and hour or so and then -- break time. And so goes the morning and the afternoon: An hour or so of work; half hour break.
At any other time in my life, I would have just shrugged, chuckled and moved on with my day. But our financial position and fruitless search for employment has me more than a little sensitive when I see workers not working -- especially when they're not working on my tax money.
Then the final straw: In the middle of baking some Italian bread, the electricity goes off. Anyway, there I am, filled with righteous indignation and I'm stalking through the house delivering a diatribe on civil service workers who never get fired and the cost to the taxpayer and how I was certainly capable of holding up a "slow" sign for an hour without requiring a half hour break.
So Dirtman heads over to take matters into his own hands, not so much because he is outraged at the injustice of being without power, but more because he just wants me to Shut. Up.
"Did you tell them about my Italian bread?" I asked angrily when he came back.
"Uh...it wasn't them," he said. "There's some guy digging with a backhoe in his yard who probably didn't clear it with the utilities. And, no, I didn't mention your bread. They've got enough problems."
It seems our local VDOT guys got a call Friday that there was $80,000 left in the budget that had to be "used up" by the end of the day (June 15) or it would be lost. They were directed to "go out and pave something" immediately, whether it needed it or not. They figured this intersection would cause the least amount of trouble to drivers.
Since the project was so spur-of-the-moment, they didn't have the materials on hand, so they had to wait for truckloads of supplies to be picked up in another county -- hence all the waiting around.
For the record, they were just as outraged as I was, since they had plenty of maintenance that had to be done, seeing as they have to maintain the most gravel roads of any VDOT jurisdiction in the state. Yet, here they were being paid overtime to pave a road that didn't need paving.
How much paving does $80,000 buy? 19,008 inches; 1,584 feet; 0.3 of a mile -- 30 cents per square foot of pavement.
I try not to think what a difference $80,000 would mean in the real world -- you know the world where $80,000 could support an entire family very comfortably for an entire year.