History books, documentaries, films and novels provide a great many recountings and portrayals of the arrival of occupying armies in various cities and countries. From the tale of the Trojan Horse to the occupation of numerous towns by the Nazis, nighttime subterfuge has been a hallmark. These troops arrive under cover of darkness, giving citizens a shock when they wake up. Rising to find your neighbourhood festooned with insignia of an occupying force, in addition to military equipment and soldiers must be an absolutely horrifying and terribly disheartening experience. One I hope to never witness.
One morning last week a similar, albeit completely benign, occurrence befell my community. Citizens awoke to find hundreds, if not thousands, of orange traffic cones on the sidewalk of one the main streets. (Let me point out that while these cones are made of rubber, and they were brought into our city secretly at night, they do not resemble today’s rubber Trojans, an invasion of which would only lead to a reduction in unwanted pregnancies.)
Like an occupying army, orange and black striped cones were placed on the sidewalk overnight, as far as the eye can see – at least as far as my eyes can see. Stoically standing, unperturbed by the elements or pedestrians trying to get around them they give no quarter. Block after block of them, all decked-out in their bi-colored uniforms awaiting deployment to the street. What fresh traffic hell could possibly entail this many cones? I’m sure they are multiplying; are they cones or clones?
In Montreal we have a relatively short window of opportunity when it comes to road work and repairs to infrastructure. Citizens complain to governments about the sorry state of streets, aging water mains that are prone to rupture, overpasses and underpasses. They (we) harangue our elected officials for twelve months, yet work is limited to five or six months due to old man winter. I have come to the realization that these same governments exact their revenge by agreeing to undertake all of the work at once. Their approach: ‘You wanted it fixed, so we’re fixing it, all of it, at the same time. Enjoy your summer, and forget about driving anywhere anytime for the next three months!’ Be careful what you ask for, because you might just get it.
But in the end all was well, the cones were used to marshal marchers in a celebration of the opening of our new health centre campus. Phew!