Thursday, April 26, 2012

Constructing slow moving traffic

Constructing slow moving traffic
By Kevin Nelson
The Good Time Happy News

The cars pass... slowly. What compels them to move at such a snail's pace, and then I see it. Nathan Jacobson, a road construction flag waver guy furiously tapping his “SLOW” sign, and everyone does as his sign commands.
"In bus terminology, 'SLOW' means 'FAST.'
I hate buses," said Jacobson

What struck me about Jacobson is how in the zone he seemed. Even people in yellow cars, notoriously known for driving ridiculously fast and/or being a taxi drove at reasonable speeds. Obviously Jacobson had struck a chord with the world, and I needed to find out his secret.

“You caught me on a good day, I'm just really in the zone,” Jacobson said as I parked my car right next to him, blocking eight lanes of traffic. “Like just now, people have come to a dead stop, which we in the sign waving business refer to as 'super slow.' Gifts like that have just been coming to me all day.”

There was a method to his madness. I needed to know more.

“I'll never forget that day, July 11th, 1983,” said Jacobson, with seemingly little prompting. “We had just gotten out of the weekend and those Monday morning drivers were wanting to jet through the construction zone. But I held strong. I tapped my sign, I made eye contact, they slowed. One guy tried going 35 MPH. At that point, I actually had to do the often talked about, but little realized 'Four Tapper.' That's when you take this here sign and you tap it once, then you tap it again, then you tap it again. Usually by that point, most people have slowed. If they haven't, you tap it again.”


“We call it the 'Four Tapper,' because there are four taps involved. The first one is followed by the second one. Then the third one comes along, only to be followed by the fourth. There are four taps, so we call it the 'Four Tapper.'”

Redundancy made it slightly less fascinating, but still fascinating nonetheless.

“You better believe he slowed,” Jacobson said. At this point, one of Jacobson's fellow sign tappers noticed the conversation and came over to join in.

“One time an aardvark actually came through the traffic line. Can you believe it, an aardvark?” said Cheryl Smith, a longtime coworker of Jacobson. “Nate here didn't even bat an eye. He just tapped that sign until that Tubulidentata realized it was making a traffic faux pas and slowed down to a more manageable gait.”

“That was also the day when I got two people to slow at the same time, with only one sign,” said Jacobson. “I think it really helps that I spend my life standing at various crossroads. Lord knows various underworld entities and demons have accidentally granted me special powers down at the crossroads. I didn't sign over my soul, but I'll definitely accept the magic sign waving abilities.”

“Jealous!” said Smith. “The closest I've ever come to an encounter with the darkside is that time those aliens kidnapped me.”

“I tried slowing them down, they just couldn't read our language.”

“Yeah, SLOW should be universal,” I said as I hopped in my car and sped away. No matter how many times he tapped that sign, I wasn't coming back nor slowing down.

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