The Office of Traffic Engineering

There’s a thrift store in Austintown, Ohio that I frequent—It’s called Village Thrift and there’s always some neat stuff to peruse and consider.  I usually buy something.  Today I found an old artist’s case—a magnificent wooden box with fitted joints—in perfect shape, still containing a large assortment of oil paints, a palette, and—TADA!!—a cover from a 1967 Good Housekeeping.  Mrs. Young fancies herself an artist (I do too), and I bought it for the not so princely sum of 6 bucks American.

There’s always a surprise at Village Thrift.  I thought that today’s surprise was the artist’s box, but then, in the parking lot, I was hammered with the real surprise of the day.  Sitting at idle in a deserted corner of the parking lot was a City of Youngstown truck with a city employee behind the wheel—On the door of the truck, around the city seal, were the words “Traffic Engineer”.  What?!? He said??  I had no idea that we had traffic engineers in Youngstown—well, OK, technically he was in Austintown, but you get the point.  This represents the Youngstown Traffic Engineer as an actual city bureaucrat.  At the risk of repeating myself, I had no idea.

The intersections in this town are nightmares of ill-advised engineering.  I actually thought they had been hatched rather than engineered.  Street signs, when they actually exist, are routinely hidden behind stop signs, trees, houses—you name it.  They‘re never in a predictable place nor of predictable color schemes.  Abbreviations are ad-hoc.  A Lane might be abbreviated Ln or La.  You just never can tell.

Intersection limit lines might exist—might not.  Once again, you never can tell.  Pot holes big enough to break a Mac truck’s spirit.  Speed limit signs may or may not exist—although it hardly matters here in Youngstown because I’ve never actually seen a Youngstown Police Car on a traffic stop writing a traffic ticket.  It might happen on occasion, but I’ve never seen it. 

Now that I know we have a Traffic Engineer’s Office, I also know that the intersections must, at some level, have been thought out, and that someone did this on purpose. 

Frightening thought.

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