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The Smiling Construction Worker

Today,  a road construction crew member smiled at my father and I as we drove past her. This really struck me, and I didn’t know why until I started thinking that I rarely see the person holding the sign to tell us what to do even acknowledge that we exist, let alone smile at us.

Traffic, slow sign, roadwork

She had spun her sign around to let us know that it was our turn, allowing us into the other lane so that we could drive around the trucks, while the other crew members worked to raise a manhole for a future paving project. And as we passed her by in her orange vest, she was alert to our presence, looking in the car window and smiling brightly and pleasantly. Why? She didn’t have to do that. She will not get paid extra for that extra effort of civility, friendliness, kindness. Perhaps she did it because that’s what she does, because that’s who she is — a person who doesn’t slack in her job or complain about it, a person who keeps her chin up and her eyes open, a person who is willing and eager to interact kindly with the people she encounters, even if only in passing.

That little, ordinary moment in a little, ordinary day opened up my eyes, my mind, and my heart to something rather extraordinary: simple human goodness. Her smile made me smile too, inside and out, appreciating the goodness of being aware of our surroundings, of being a present, receptive, and giving human, of taking the time to go slow.

© 2018 Christina Chase


Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

2 thoughts on “The Smiling Construction Worker Leave a comment

  1. I haven’t had that happen yet, but I notice that many sign-holders often stare at my car, or try to peer through the window, as if something more interesting than turning a sign around might be coming along the road.

    Imagine what it would be like, hour after hour, whatever the weather, to stand there with a sign as vehicles line up on one side while from the other side cars, trucks, motorcycles, move through the single lane that you are supervising, and then you turn the sign so it happens again as if in reverse. Now some people in cars might say to their passengers, look at that cushy job, she probably gets paid big bucks to do nothing. But I don’t think that money is the issue. Every task on a road crew is important.

    So I usually smile and wave as I go by. It’s like saying “Thanks for keeping things moving while you are making this road easier and safer to drive on.”

    Or maybe i just like smiling and waving. My granddaughter thinks I’m a bit goofy for doing that. But I learned it from my dad, and it could be that I’m passing that little habit on. Just like you are passing on the habit of noticing things that too often go unnoticed. I’ll end now with a wave and a smile. “Hi Christina”) 👋 😊


    • Excellent! 🙂 I agree, road construction work is a thankless job because people usually complain without any sense of appreciation. And just think what a little wrong turn of the wrist could do — a sign holder could cause a major pile up!

      Continue being a goofy grandpa ❤ because your waves and smiles are rare and essential gifts that keep humankind sacredly good! I'm sure the gift is being passed down the generations. Greetings and blessings, Albert!

      Liked by 1 person

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