#8 In Roads-Flag dude
It had already been a long day by the time we met. I’m on a press tour of Nebraska with a group of journalists but only four of us are on bikes. Our little biker clan consists of three Harleys and one Victory, three women and one man. Our morning had been spent fighting a wretched stretch of private road through a section of the Sandhills and Victory guy had dropped his bike. Three times. I had helped him pick it up and played stabilizer for a section as he rode out the nasty sand trap. I had my own struggles fish-tailing my way out of the 7-mile piece of “every rider’s nightmare” road. All this before noon. By the time I pulled up second in the line of traffic being stopped for road work back on the highway, I was low on patience and didn’t feel like sitting there sucking up exhaust from the van in front of me. It was then I remembered I needed to meet someone new, got off the bike and marched past the van people, right up to the flagman and asked how long of wait we might have. Then I took his picture and asked if he was having fun standing in the hot afternoon sun. He shook his head.
“Nope but it’s more fun now that you’re here. I’m not real used to people taking my picture, ya know? What do you think you’re doing, anyway? It’s cool, part of the job I guess but they set me out here to keep me out of trouble.” I asked if it worked and he chuckles. “Most times, but sometimes not. I’m trying real hard though, since I’m inching up on retirement.”
I bomb him with questions about the construction, asking why the road’s closed, if they’re milling up the black top and laying new asphalt and if so, how many miles and how long it will take. He pushes his hard hat back on his head, puts hand on hip and laughingly demands to know if I’m some kind of inspector or something. I tell him nope. He asks if I’m in construction. Shake my head no, admit I’ve had family in the field but tell him my affair with the roads only has to do with riding them, not working on them.
“Did they send you out here to test me or what?” He laughs. “I just wanna get my retirement so I can do like you and enjoy these roads. So, you need to get back on your bike, you’re gonna get me in trouble. Pilot car’s coming.” We wish each other a great day and wave goodbye as I mosey back to the Heritage and settle in for the rest of the ride. I never even got his name but standing around chatting in the middle of the highway seems kind of cool to me. I’m starting to like this.