Years later, her dance still makes me laugh

Published 12:34 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

Isn’t it wonderful that sometimes God puts a person in our path who makes us forget ourselves and our troubles and enjoy a good laugh?

When the weather gets as hot and muggy as it has been recently and the temperature inside of my car feels hot as a 450-degree oven, I remember all the way back to 1987 when someone gave me an unexpected and much needed laugh. It came to mind again Thursday as I ran a few errands, popping in and out of my car several times. The door handle was almost hot enough to blister my hand at the touch.

One day everything seemed to have gone wrong at work and I was more than ready to leave at 5 p.m. When I stepped out on the crushed shell parking lot and opened my car door, heat wrapped around me like a blanket. To make things worse, my air conditioner was on the blink and I had not had time to get it repaired. All I could do was roll down my windows for a little relief.

My hope of a leisurely drive down busy U.S. Highway 98 from Foley to home in Lillian was dashed. I found myself in a long string of stranded traffic. No cooling breeze wafted through my open windows. “Keep cool,” I told myself as my line of traffic edged along. Then cars began to move in the opposite lane slowly. Very slowly, but they were moving. I noticed a big grin on the first driver’s face. People in the car following were laughing. It was so with every vehicle I met. I was flabbergasted. It was the end of a workday when some people are filled with frustrations. Roadwork slowed their progress, but those people were laughing. “Why? What in the world?” I asked myself.

My lane began to creep. As my car edged forward, I saw one of the flagmen, rather a flag woman, signaling us on. Now I knew the reason for those smiling faces I met. With each flip of her bright orange flag, the woman did a little dance. As if by magic, my annoyance over the day’s petty happenings and inconvenience of the roadwork faded. I laughed aloud. I felt a bit relaxed. I could not wait to get home to tell my husband about the highway flag woman who transformed wrinkled brows to laughter lines. I wondered if she knew what a therapist she was.

After I wrote a column about that experience, the flag woman wrote to me. I treasure her note and have it somewhere in my files. And, yes, she knew and was glad her actions relieved tensions that hot, uncomfortable day. We all get wound up in ourselves and forget that the rest of the world lives with frustrations, too

Every time I am reminded of the flag woman’s little dance on the highway under the hot sun, it makes me smile and lifts my spirits.



Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.