It’s Gratituesday! Like the person with a leaky roof, I’ve got gratitude options pouring in on me. I haven’t got enough buckets and pans to set out to contain it all. To zero in on any one of them feels somehow unfair to the rest of my gratitude.
Weird, I know.
One thing that I’ve thought about for a few years now might seem dumb. But it keeps coming to mind even amid the more obvious, showy, big or happy things I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful today, and have been for a long while, for our amazing freeway system here in the Phoenix area.
When we first moved here nearly two decades ago there existed a north/south freeway of two lanes each direction and an east/west freeway of two and occasionally three lanes. Oh, and one that kind of veered off to the south and east. At least that’s how I remember it. Traffic always backed up all day long, all night long. At certain areas traffic bottle-necked into a tangle that made side streets seem the faster route.
Then the roads started getting widened. It’s tough to see the good when an already too small road becomes a construction zone. But, I remember seeing those workers out late at night with work lights blazing, or during the day in ungodly summer conditions and thinking how grateful I was to them for being willing to work such a difficult and demanding job. When the construction finished I remember thinking how amazing it felt to zip through town so quickly.
Every year for a while, more roads grew out of the desert, then existing ones widened, tweaked, and modified. Every change makes life easier to navigate in a car and simplifies my day.
Phoenix and surrounding ‘burbs now boast a loop that services nearly every community with quick, easy access to a freeway and few areas that truly jam up too much. And more roads continue under construction. To me, it’s an engineering marvel that such things exist.
My Dad worked for the Department of Transportation as an engineer while I grew up. I remember looking at the blueprints, the fancy drawings, the meticulous hand lettering, the pages and pages of notes, and wondering what that had to do with roads. Back then the math was done with slide rules and on paper, and then calculators; the drawings done without the aid of computers. Amazing stuff now that I think back on it. To this day when Dad drives along a road he helped engineer in one way or another he comments, remembering details and stories about specific curves, hills, turns, side rails and even striping. Is that something? I think so. It says he put himself into his work. He took pride in it. He cared about what he did.
To men and women like him back then when the freeway system was in its infancy and toddlerhood, to the many people now, with the roads somewhere between teenager years and midlife crisis, I feel a great desire to say “Thank You.” And to those who took paper and drawings and transformed them into asphalt and bridges, concrete and smoothness, I also want to say “Thank You.”
Rarely a day goes by that I’m not a recipient of the blessings of their imagination, brilliance, hard work, and sweat.
If you know someone who works on roads somehow from beginning ideas to end product or somewhere in between, could you pass along my thanks? I’m not sure of any other way to do so.
And by all means, in construction zones, slow down!
I remember when they were building I-79 through our little town. It’s still one of the most impressive things I was ever able to watch (at times).