Laura on Life

Use caution

By Laura Snyder

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[July 02, 2008]  Coming home from a weeklong vacation, we decided to take a shortcut. You know ... one of those "shortcuts" that really isn't?

RestaurantIt probably would have been shorter if not for the abundance of road construction going on. It seems the entire state of Pennsylvania is in a constant state of construction. It's never really been "done." The license plates in Pennsylvania should have been changed from the Keystone State to the State of Perpetual Construction.

There were eight occupants of our motor home in the State of Perpetual Construction ... and we were all bored. Strange things happen when people are bored.

A simple sign on the side of the interstate can provoke absurd conversations. My oldest son saw one that read "Workers Ahead -- 50 MPH." His first thought, being that he is a scientist, was that the outcome would be pretty much the same if you were to hit a worker at 50 mph as opposed to, say, 75 mph. Why did they bother slowing everybody down?

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My other son had the answer, albeit, not a good one: "The difference is in the number of pieces they'd have to pick up." Construction workers of America, we honored you by smacking him upside the head for that.

The conversation took a swift turn before that awful image could sink in, and they began talking about the effects of an airborne construction barrel on the occupants of a motor home should said barrel penetrate the windshield.

How about a construction cone? Or a shovel? A rogue chuteful of uncured cement?

We discussed the merits of driving on the left or the right when a lane shift occurred in a construction zone. The right side has more room should another vehicle cut you off. But, it was argued, in the left lane your vehicle will only swerve as far as the cement barrier. It would then be left on the road scraped, upright and possibly wheezing. But it would be in one piece, as would the occupants.

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Depending on what section of road you are on when the cut-off occurs, that may be a better scenario than what would happen in the right lane if you were say, on a bridge ... a really high bridge ... or a mountain.

Many of the highway signs read "Use Caution" when describing an abnormal construction situation. Abnormal for anywhere but Pennsylvania, that is. What if we already used all of our caution? What if we ran out of caution 150 miles back? What then?

Pennsylvania ought to give out free caution at their rest stops, which are, incidentally, also under construction. I mean, we shouldn't be expected to use all of our caution in just one state, should we? That's not fair to all of the other states we'd have to drive through.

The drive home was long, so the talk eventually turned to how we could all finagle another day off work.

The excuses were tossed around with increasing creativeness.

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"Sorry boss, we ran into some traffic and can't make it back tonight."

"My mother's having a baby today. No, we didn't know she was pregnant either."

"A motorcycle drove off a bridge right into the kitchen of our motor home. We had to bungee-cord the two halves together and call a helicopter to airlift the motorcycle out of our kitchen. Yeah, so ... I'm not going to make it in tomorrow."

"Pennsylvania is making us go 50 mph to reduce the risk of airborne or dismembered workers. That's right. So, it's going to take at least another day to get to another state."


You can reach the writer at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.


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