The road outside my window

The road outside my window is under construction. It’s a nice road, frequently traveled by people to go lots of places — towards New Ulm and on to Mankato or away from New Ulm towards Morgan or Redwood Falls or Jackpot Junction and in-between and beyond, so many places. It’s a road I barely notice, though I use it multiple times every day. It has become, like so many things of our daily life, routine and mundane: things we think about for a second or two while we’re waiting in line somewhere or waiting at a light somewhere but never really consider all that much.

So much of our lives are full of these things we get so used to that we don’t consider the everyday miracles of doctors or teachers or nurses or builders of bridges or how long it took to perfect the stoplight or all the angles of a road. We don’t consider electricity or a camera anything less than a right, nothing more than a thing to curse when it doesn’t work the way we need — yet it really wasn’t so long ago that these were science fiction or beyond that.

But back to that road. Think of how many people actually had to do something to make it happen. You can go back infinitely to find who should get some of the credit — from the person who first discovered the local gravel pit years ago to the person who drops it off with the truck — there are thousands of people in-between them that played a part.

Sure, they get paid — but even think of that. First, the money has to be earned before it can be paid for — meaning someone has to have a job for them to get the money. Then they have to do the work well to get paid. Then, the government has to tax that money to get their money. Then the government has to agree to spend it. They ask for bids. They award the bid to those who can do it for the least and who have a proven track record of doing it. Then each individual for that company has to do their individual job of driving truck and dropping off gravel or laying cement or grading the road or painting the lines or a million other little and big things. This, of course, is after someone has done surveying, calculations of angles, costs of scoops of gravel, had a hundred meetings of governments and private groups, a few thousand phone calls and emails to get it just right. Then the company that redoes the road has to be able to handle problems that come up like rain or a deer running across new cement and leaving marks or machinery that breaks down.

That company has to work around the local people like me who use the road on a daily basis while doing their creation. They are rarely thanked or thought of and sometimes cursed — those people that make our lives better in ways that we forget or never consider — in ways that many other countries can only imagine. I thank them now for this road but also for all our roads — some that had to have TNT just so that I could cross them without a care in the world.

Modern life makes us so interconnected while we often feel lonely, not realizing how tied to each other we are. We’re all in this together in so many ways, though it’s all so so easy to forget that. Right now, I’ll be aware of the smoothness of the new road, how more comfortable in the car I am, and how much more enjoyable the drive is. But someday — a month, a year or so — I’ll forget about the road and the miracle of it and all that had to happen for it to come into being, just so that I might have a better road outside my window. It’ll just be another road, another thing, that I barely even — barely ever — notice.