Friday, July 07, 2017


Jilda and I had our annual eye exams today. Our eye doc is in Birmingham so we made ours back-to-back to save a trip.

Our doc is in one of the largest malls in the state and when we pulled into the parking lot, some of the space toward the front were barricaded off. We found a space and headed inside. There was a fleet of construction vehicles lined up ready to begin work.

It was already toasty at 9:30 a.m. But when we came out a few hours later, it was brutal. Construction workers were laying a new layer of asphalt over the old one. Looking through the heat vapor, our car danced in the distance and looked like a mirage. 

I felt sorry for the guys responsible for walking across the hot stuff and making sure the area close to the curbs were covered. I'd like to know how hot the soles of their shoes got. The thing is, I've done that work. 

The summer of 1968 after graduating from Dora High School I worked for the Alabama Highway Department. My job function was on the survey team but my youthful enthusiasm and twisted sense of humor got under my supervisor's skin...especially when he had a hangover. That happened in late August that year when the temps here in Alabama were actually hotter than the surface of the sun. I got on the super's bad side and he put me on "special assignment." The special assignment was inspecting the depth of new asphalt. By the end of the day, I  would have polished my super's shoes to get off that assignment.

It didn't take long to understand that when the boss man was cross, I needed to sit in the BACK of the crew truck and keep my mouth SHUT. Every day is a school day.

It's interesting how the smell of a fresh bituminous petroproduct brought back a VIVID memory from almost 50 years ago.


  1. Argh! For the life of me, I can't understand why highway departments choose the hottest time of year to do this sort of work. Two major streets I travel each weekday are being resurfaced, and I feel so awful for those men being baked out there.
    (Little wonder your boss suffered hangovers!)

  2. Interesting how smells bring back vivid memories more than almost anything else.

  3. Yes, I agree that smell can bring on memories or even emotion right to the surface.
    My husband gave me a soap that belonged to my late daughter Nicole the other night. It was an Estee Lauder scented soap that he had put into his travel toiletry bag and he'd forgotten about it. When I smelled the soap, a wave of emotions came over me and I bursted into tears. It had the most wonderful scent.

    Those poor guys working on the hot asphalt and baking in the hot sun have to be tough. I feel sorry for them.

    Thanks for your comment about my water poem Rick.

    Hugs, Julia

  4. Vivid memories come at the strangest of times. So glad my eye doc is close by. Road work seems to be everywhere around here.

  5. Isn't it funny how a smell can trigger a memory like this, doing road work is definitely a hot job, and being given "special assignments" can sure adjust our attitudes.

  6. That is an awful smell. I don't know how people work around it all the time. Especially hot days because the heat magnifies the smell.

  7. Few things have the power of serving as a time machine, but smell is definitely one.

  8. Reading this brought up a memory of mine own, helping my great-grandmother move house when I was about 14 and having to cross a newly tared road on a very hot day and the tar in a couple of spots still sticky

  9. Anonymous11:40 AM

    I actually LIKE the smell of hot tar!!


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