Sometimes I work
Transportation Engineer- that’s what I am. I do not transport engineers to their work places. That’ll be called a cabbie. I do not really hold a stop sign and stand in the middle of an intersection with suicidal notions. That’ll be called an obsolete constable.
I simply design roads.
My mom would say,’ All that money we spent on your education and you end up putting tar on the roads? At least come and fix that annoying pot-hole near thatha’s house or do something to that signal in Annanagar circle.’
My thesis topic was even more glamorous- ‘Drainage through pavement’. Before you crinkle your delicate noses, drainage is the phenomenon where rain water (or any water) finds a way to go under. Oh well, someone’s got to make sure your cars don’t turn into submarines.
For those who wanted to know my activities at work in detail (not kidding, but some people did want to know), I basically sit in front of the computer designing and analyzing using various kinds of traffic software. Transportation projects including Roadways, Aviation, Ports are a big deal nowadays and provide us engineers with ample opportunities for growth. Current trends, future demand, comparing the future traffic with the current capacity, government funds etc drive the necessity for a project. The tasks I do include analyzing traffic data, signal timings, making sure the facility would work and that traffic would flow smoothly without much delays, designing local roads, freeways, ramps, bridges, checking for safe operations, calculating costs based on quantities, fighting with environmentalists, schmoozing with clients, sucking up to the boss and the hardest of all- waking up in the morning ...phew! I didn’t realize I do so much.. need a raise dammit!
Basically our Projects are split into
Phase I- Preliminary design.. laying out the plan from scratch roughly (my favorite)
Phase II- Final Design... catering to excruciating details and completion of design (my nightmare)
Phase III- Construction (when our plans are developed into roads for you to drive on)..I personally never take that route after completion unless I need to get my tooth chipped off.
Apart from the technical aspect, we get to meet people too. After the Phase I design, we hold a Public Meeting inviting all the residents and business owners around that ‘road’ to check out the plans and offer their gratitude. You’d think it must be such a warm fuzzy feeling to be interacting with the people who’ll use something you created. You’d even think people might bring you gifts and blessings to appreciate all the weekend efforts you’ve put to see this project through.
But then, you’d be completely delusional and mistaken. I learnt the hard way that people don’t like progress and upliftment of their community. Flaring angry residents shouting slogans armed with placards and mean petitions stormed into the hall.
‘So you are the freak who’s decided to build the road through my garden? You’ll rot in hell!!
‘Me? No..noo..Let me introduce you to my boss.. Hey Jaaaack…’
‘Do you have children?’ asked another peeved local.
Finally thinking we are bridging the gap talking about family and such, I beamed, ’No dear. How about you?’
‘That explains it, you heartless being! I have three kids..if even one of them gets run over by a truck playing on the road thinking it’s our yard, I’ll get you lady! You’ll never be able to sleep peacefully! Hissssssssss!’
When what how?!! Me a child murderer? And seriously, are her kids so messed up as to not tell the difference from a road and a yard? And why curse my sleep? As it is I get less of it thanks to Pi’s snoring!
While I was taking this all in, one nice chap came to me and told me in a matter-of-fact way that he would not hesitate to shoot any construction worker that tries to touch his willow tree. He was dressed in hunter’s clothes.
I pulled off my name tag from my jacket and mingled with the crowd shouting, “DOWN WITH RECONSTRUCTION!’