As anyone who has driven a car in Edmonton this summer knows, you can scarcely go around the block without running into construction. It aggravates everyone, but I look at it as short-term pain for long-term gain. When the freakin’ Anthony Henday is completed (est. completion date: 2027, if it doesn’t rain), it will be a seamless connector from one end of town to the other. In the meantime, enjoy the view, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at it.
Construction mania has come to my backyard (and front yard) with my long neglected road getting a new topping. And not a moment too soon: the potholes on my street have been filled in with Smart Cars. I’m happy to have the road repaired since it is, quite literally, crumbling to the point of total failure. Thank you, city of Edmonton, for finally sending some of my tax dollars my way.
However, city of Edmonton, I could do without the flag girls.
We’ve all seen flag girls (and yes, they are female in 99 per cent of the cases). They are the people who stand (or, quite often, sit, and, quite often text) for hours in the sun, holding a sign that says either “slow” or “stop”. It’s clearly complex, demanding work. Should you just warn cars to slow down, or make them stop entirely? These are critical decisions that only a highly trained flag professional can make.
Now, there are, of course, situations where a flag girl is necessary. High traffic locations, highways, situations where the heavy equipment has to move into traffic. It’s not hard to see where and when flag girls are necessary.
It’s also not hard to see where flag girls are entirely superfluous. Take the work being done on my quiet residential street. During the day, there might — might — be 20 cars on the street in an hour. The equipment on the road is huge, and impossible to miss. And yet, with virtually no traffic and machinery that you could see from space, a flag girl has been assigned to the job. I had the opportunity to watch this highly-skilled professional at work for a while today. She stood, gabbing with a fellow flag girl who was lounging on the ground, for some time without so much as a single car driving by. I have to give her props for at least standing. Earlier in the week, a different hard-working flag girl sat during her shift, and spend some of the time texting.
The city of Edmonton is spending hundreds of million on road construction this year, and admittedly the portion of that money going to underemployed flag girls is low. But when I see my tax dollars being flushed down the crapper, I get annoyed. All I ask is that the city employ a tiny bit of common sense in when to require a flag girl. Busy road: yes. Non-busy residential street: no. I challenge any member of city council (I’m looking at you, Kerry Diotte) to ask the administration to come up with the total spend on flag girls, and to evaluate the policy on this sometimes important, most often useless, position.
And yes, I know there are some guys who do the flag job. And yes, I don’t want anyone to get hurt on the job. But all I’m asking for is a little common sense.