"Must Be Nice..."
We've all seen it... 3 city workers standing around a ditch with their shovels slung over their shoulders while a fourth guy (and probably the junior on the crew) digs away. And we've all made the same comment: "Must be nice to work for the city." Well, as of today, I'm not so sure...
I woke up yesterday only to find out that a water main had broken somewhere and our water service was a little screwed up. It was off, exactly, just a little slow. Sure, it took a little longer to fill the coffee pot but, other than that, it wasn't a big deal. In a matter of a couple hours, everything was back to normal. Case closed? Not really.
It normally takes me about 20 minutes to get home from work, in rush hour traffic. Today, it took an hour and a half! It was a bumper-to-bumper crawl the whole way. Apparently, that water main problem had partially shut down a 2 kilometer (little over a mile) section of road. It may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider that roughly 8 major communities in the northeast part of our city rely on that road... Well, that changes everything!
As the cars crept along, I couldn't help thinking that this shouldn't be happening. Seriously, the water problem had happened some 34 hours earlier... Surely they could have it cleaned up by now. But, I figured that they were only working on the problem from 9 to 5, like the rest of us, and probably dragging their asses about it, too. I couldn't have been more wrong.
When I finally arrived home, I hopped on the ol' computer and called up some of the local news sites. It turns out that approximately 100,000 people (including a 500 bed hospital) were without water for up to 5 hours Sunday morning. A major intersection became flooded with a metre (3 feet, give or take) of water that quickly turned to slush. Motorists who tried to drive through found themselves swamped, with water up to their windows, and had to be rescued by fire crews with a boat! A nasty thing anytime of the year, but imagine it when the mercury is sitting at a bone-chilling -25 Celsius (-13 F)!
So, not only did our "lazy city workers" manage to re-route water service for almost a tenth of our city in under 5 hours, but there are now crews of 6 working 9-hour shifts to clean up the ice, locate the break, and repair the damage. All in all, a pretty impressive feat! Sure, a couple lanes of traffic will be re-routed for the rest of the week... Yeah, it's gonna take longer to get home... So what? It sure beats being one of the guys working out there at this very moment, suffering windchills of -40 Celsius (that's about -40 in good ol' Fahrenheit, too)!
Hopefully I'll remember all this next summer when I see those 3 guys standing around the ditch... Then again, knowing me, I'll probably just look at them and say, "Must be nice to work for the city..."