Thursday, April 19, 2012

Big Yellow Machines

The big yellow machines were back outside my house today.

My street is apparently slated for demolition this spring. Not the houses, mind you. Just the street. And about time, I say, for getting from Point A (at the south corner of my block) to Point B (my driveway) without first being rerouted through Point C (which feels very much like the exciting part of a motocross track) has become something of a trick. This does not include actually getting past the sinkholes guarding my driveway, some of which have glass elevators and charge admission fees.

Coming home can be an expensive, if scenic, proposition.

So when the letter came in February that the city would begin to replace this carnival of multiple altitudes with something resembling a macadamized road, I was on board with it.

Last week they began what appears to be Phase 1 of this project. Phase 1, from what I could tell, involved making great holes in the road wherever a water pipe came to the surface (approximately every thirty-five feet), and then filling those holes in with gravel. I am sure that something of note happened between the making of those holes and their filling in with gravel, but beyond a general sort of “and then they fixed the water main” I couldn’t tell you what that something might be.

And they didn’t fix it anyway. At least not at first.

They tried though. Last Friday there suddenly appeared in front of my house a hole ten feet square and eight feet deep encompassing the south half of my driveway apron as well as pieces of the surrounding street and terrace (Our Little Town has awfully wide terraces), and as I was negotiating with the crew chief for an approved escape route so I could get to work that day he asked me “How’s your water pressure upstairs?” “What water pressure?” I asked him. “Figured,” he said. It turns out that there were multiple leaks out there in the road, and that he would be directing his crew to fix them.

On the one hand, those leaks were before my water meter, so I wasn’t paying for them. On the other hand, wasting water is a bummer, bad water pressure is more of a bummer, and the idea that this fixing of leaks might resolve the recurring sinkholes guarding my driveway and save me admission fees seemed, well, an anti-bummer. “Have at it,” I said, as if he needed my permission.

When I came back later that day, it appeared that he had not fixed those leaks so much as moved them to new locations. My newly graveled hole was a swamp, which had not been the case with the original sinkholes. But by then it was the weekend, and I had to wait until Monday to complain.

They said they’d send someone out.

It turns out that my leaks probably were fixed, but they had created new leaks with the hole in front of my neighbor’s house and that water was running south to me and making my swamp. I found this explanation satisfyingly explanatory, but rather short in the “solving my actual problem” department.

Yesterday they came by and cut a groove into my new gravel, which had the salutary effect of draining my new swamp but was still lacking in the “solving my actual problem” department.

This morning they came to solve the problem.

Vast yellow machines crawled hither and yon back and forth in front of my house, making my computer bounce up and down and causing the work crew to shut off my water, though they were kind enough to give me sufficient lead time to get a shower and fill my teapot.

There is something about big yellow machines that dig up stuff that is just forever fascinating, especially if you – like me – were once a 9-year-old boy.

But now they’re gone again. It seems like they actually did solve my problem. The swamp appears to be gone. I haven’t noticed any great change in water pressure, but at least I’ve got the old pressure back.

And sometime soon they will redo the street, which will mean more big yellow machines.



tellthestories said...

This makes me want to call you Arthur Dent, or DentArthurDent, perhaps.

David said...

I was hoping someone would pick up on that reference. :)

Unknown said...

Ohhh, the Hitchhiker's Guide. It's been a long time since I read that.