It is July in Maine and we are smack in the middle of a multiple-week period even worse than winter and a close second to tourist season. It stops us in our tracks, makes us late for the start of our day as well as the end and causes us to wonder just how much of the city was falling apart without us noticing.
It is construction season.
I get that there is a very small window of opportunity for crews to be outside and not turn into a character from Frozen. But just how many streets can they repair at once? The answer is as many as it takes to make the area look like Godzilla came trouncing through.
At the moment the entire street leading to my office is ripped up in various stages of repair. There are giant yellow machines sticking out into the streets for drivers to maneuver around, towering hills of dirt, and carefully cut holes so cavernous they could easily swallow my Ford Fusion with me inside. Stop and Slow signs held by workers in yellow garb assault my view as I into my way into Portland each morning. How none of them have wound up flying through the air by a careening car is beyond me.
Then there is the obstacle course I like to call the sidewalk slalom. It’s great if you want to be entertained by pedestrians forming conga lines in the streets while trying not to get taken out by a taxi. It’s even more interesting if a tourist is attempting to read one of those colorful Portland maps and walk at the same time, searching out the best place for lunch. Honestly now, there is no lobster roll worth getting squashed by a Land and Sea Tour bus.
I am admittedly in more of a hurry to drive out of town at the end of the day, when people from away are crossing the street in front of me talking on their cell phones while sipping a Starbucks iced coffee. Compounded by the construction still in full swing when I leave, so far this summer I feel like I’ve been in my car more than I’ve been at home.
It’s not just where I work that construction haunts me. Because the season is so short, there’s a whole lot of drilling, digging and detouring going on in Maine. There is a particular local market I like to frequent for vegetables. This little store has been somewhat of a construction magnet for the past few months. Surrounding roads feel like razor stubble on Goliath’s face. Still, I have persisted and will continue to shop there as long as I don’t have to be home before dark.
The real problem with construction is that it causes traffic, and I have zero tolerance for sitting between other cars and not moving. I’ve been known to take ridiculous detours to avoid sitting still. Try this in the Saco-Biddeford area and you'll find yourself stuck on the side road of a side road leading right back to the actual traffic jam.
I suppose I need to learn more patience so that I’m not screaming inside (well, mostly inside) by the time I get to my destination. I could try meditating as I sit waiting for the traffic crew to flip the Stop sign over to the Slow side. I could attempt to enjoy the sights and sounds around me, like the harmonic melody of drills and hammers, or the various shades of yellow on various heavy equipment, especially the ones I get stuck behind when I have three minutes to get to work.
Or maybe next year I’ll smarten up and use some vacation time to avoid these traffic snarls... and my own.