A Bad Workman

2LAW Flash Lit Challenge #6, October 2021

A Bad Workman

“Uggghhhhh!” I propped my elbow on the driver’s side door and put my head on my hand, irritated and tired, “Look at this freakin’ traffic!”

Image by Lisa Perry

I crept onto the freeway on-ramp at a snail’s pace along with what felt like hundreds of other cars trying to squeeze into the same two lanes, all of us going nowhere fast. No matter which route I took, there was always some kind of construction going on. Arizona had earned its reputation with its residents as the “orange barrel” state with the never ending road work. It felt like the urban planners and DOT master minds had given up trying to strike a balance between maintaining the infrastructure and making the commute tolerable.

Besides, why would they work during commute hours? 

“Hey, buddy, just wait your turn to merge like the rest of us!” I groused at the guy in the white pickup truck. It was always a pick up truck.

I inched along and turned up the volume on my audio book. Can’t go wrong with anything by Ann Patchett, no matter how many miles per hour you’re traveling.  I was listening to Bel Canto and felt a great affinity for Gen Watanabe, the interpreter character. He made me reflect on my own work as an interpreter and how tricky the dance can be. Maintaining boundaries required vigilance, especially when, like Watanabe’s character, we might be the only link people had to each other and, in their view, the only means to getting what they wanted. Patchett took creative liberties and deftly blurred the lines with Watanabe, but in my work I took care to keep a much greater distance from things.

As the on-ramp finally dumped me onto the freeway, I saw that I wasn’t going to pick up my speed much. This bottleneck extended beyond the interchange of three freeways, and who knows how far it went on from there. Between that and the searing summer heat, I was fried.

“I swear,” I muttered, “if there are workmen up here standing on the side of the road taking a break, I’m gonna honk at them as I go by!” A lot of good it would do me, but it’s good to express yourself sometimes. Or, at least, dream about it.

I settled back into my book. I was gonna be here a while.

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