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Maureen Anderson

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A Wavy Line: The Shortest Distance Between My Boss and Me

Posted: 04/24/2012 4:12 pm

"Sally, get in the truck," my superintendent said late one afternoon the summer I worked construction, using the nickname I'd been assigned -- though I still don't know why. The look on my super's face was... not good... as he continued: "We're going for a ride."

I'd been driving "the truck" that day, the truck we used to lay tape for a double center line, so one side of the highway could accommodate both directions of traffic while we worked on the other side. There was some contraption that fed both lines of tape off the back of the truck as it rolled slowly down the road. My job was to drive, while leaning out of the window (slightly) and keeping the guide directly over the center of the highway. Trouble was, it was windy that day. I knew when the wind blew the guide one way, I should compensate the other way a little bit. But the wind kept blowing, and I kept compensating -- or rather, overcompensating.

I thought the result would be a little wavy, but I was wrong. It was a lot wavy. It was eerie, how consistently wavy it was. It actually turned out to be more of a perfect zigzag, for that entire stretch of highway. Five. Whole. Miles.

The superintendent, I'd been told, didn't like me being on the crew. He supposedly thought I was out there trying to get dates. I wanted to ask him if he thought I needed to shovel concrete twelve hours a day -- what my job description soon became -- to get dates, but I was afraid of him.

I was going to be fired. I was sure of it.

So this was a very long ride. He didn't say a word. Not during the first mile, and not during the second. The third mile went by, and... nothing. Finally, and I think we were almost to the five-mile mark by now, he burst out laughing. He just couldn't contain himself. He was laughing, so I started laughing. And we were pals after that.

Here's the thing. I was doing my best. I was new to the crew, eager to make a good impression, and trying so hard to keep the guide right over the center line I tried too hard and messed everything up.

I was doing my best, and it sucked. But I was forgiven, and I doubt I'm the only person still laughing about this one.

 
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