What in the world is going on in this freakin’ city?

I mean, suddenly, everywhere you turn … well, everywhere you turn you can’t actually turn because there’s a giant roadblock or a detour sign or a bulldozer sitting in your way or a crane inching across the road while you wait and look on. It used to be that, each morning, I’d get in my car, put on some nice music and drive peacefully to work – but now it’s like trying to find your way around the Villa Pisani labyrinth. (I thought that might be a hard one for you, so see how I helped you out there?)

Just about every square foot of the City of Greensboro, no matter where you turn, is currently under construction or being renovated or repaired. And, at the exact same time, every single road is also under repair, every electrical line is being fixed and every water pipe is being ripped from the ground and replaced with another one. For some reason I’m not sure of, suddenly, out of nowhere, about three months ago, everyone in the City of Greensboro and their brother, mother, dad, sister and boss simultaneously went into repair and construction mode – and now everything is being done all at once.

In Irving Park, now, you see $2 million houses with giant bulldozers sitting in the front yard next to big mountains of dirt like the house was a storage shack under construction in Climax. And it’s everywhere. It’s Gate City Boulevard; it’s downtown and Brown Town and Fisher Park, Barber Park and parking lots.

Right now, driving around is, like, go this way – no, go that way; now turn right three times, come back to this point and make a U-turn. There are huge machines, construction barriers, detour signs in my path at every juncture, turning the road system into an enigma wrapped inside a puzzle drizzled with a healthy dose of conundrum and topped with a riddle, along with a big side-helping of aggravation. Whenever driving, it’s impossible to get into any type of momentum or flow. My commute feng shui is all but destroyed.

And that’s when you can move at all: Half the time these days you are just sitting there jammed in standstill traffic along with the rest of Greensboro watching the construction people or the guy with the Stop/Slow sign.

Now, after a couple of months of literally not being able to drive on any road in this town, I am getting very sick and tired of all of the construction going on except for the projects being carried out specifically by Carroll Companies, which owns this newspaper in addition to many other excellent companies. Anything being built by that company, I’m fine with, but, as for all this other incredibly annoying construction and repair work being done by everyone else from the City of Greensboro to Yum Yum to the Greenway people and DOT workers – well, I have a real issue with that.

Listen people, slow down! There is no need to do all of this at once. Rome was not built in a day, so what do you think that says for a sleepy little city in central North Carolina? You all need to space these projects out. Hold your horses and your cranes. Where’s the fire? There is no need to rush, people. Can’t we all just take a page from the FedEx book and be happy with adding 10 square feet of new space once every two years or whatever. You know, can’t we be laid back like FedEx and Jamaican surf shop owners and just say, “It’ll get done when it gets done, Mon.”

Can’t we just be like that? Apparently not.

No, apparently in this hustle and bustle year of 2017, everything has to be done in one fell swoop at breakneck speeds as though Greensboro is an 1849 California Gold Rush town.

This never-ending construction is killing some businesses. I think of poor little Deep Roots just to take one example. Now, I love Deep Roots even though they wouldn’t refund my $6 for the bad organic cheese that time. And I like to stop by there on my way home from work and get some eggs from the happy chickens and some meat from the cows who gave it willingly and cheerfully so that I might enjoy locally raised grass-fed hormone-free antibiotic-free ribeyes. But now you can’t even get to that store without a hardhat, a compass and an octant. Magellan nearly circumnavigated the globe but he would have no chance trying to make it to Deep Roots.

So Deep Roots is a casualty of the Greenway, which has had 50 people working on it every day for months and months. Which makes no sense at all because, when it comes right down to it, a greenway is just a walking path. I’ve never seen anything like what is going on over there: It is utterly amazing how much sheer destruction of the earth apparently has to take place to make a greenway.

And I’m very worried because, from the looks of it, all of this construction in Greensboro is going to take a very, very long time indeed. Now every construction project in town has become like the northern outer loop project – the upper highway around Greensboro, which has been under construction literally forever. Do you know when they started that? I looked it up and the northern outer loop project started in 1843! At that time, when the NC DOT began it, it was supposed to be a dirt trail for pioneer caravans but now it’s going to be a paved highway. I also checked with the state to find out when they will be done with that and it turns out it will be in the year 3024 – but, of course, we won’t even need it by then because we will all have flying cars.

(Or will we??)

I have a bad feeling that all of these other construction and road projects are going to take at least that long or longer as well. For decades, people have asked why, on any road construction job, you have a work crew of 27 people with two people working and 25 people standing around watching them. That trope of the lollygagging construction team has been so well mined for comedy and curiosity that I am not even going to mention it here and I am certainly not going to ask the obvious question of why you need 25 people standing around watching two men do work, but I do want to say this: Why in the world, on every single road construction project, do you need 25 people standing around watching two people work?

I mean, it seems like it would make sense to either …

  1. Save money by only hiring two people and not hiring the extra 25 and just letting the bystanders or the stopped drivers be the observers who stare at the working pair, or …
  2. Have all 27 workers actually do work so that you would get the job done quicker rather than be a major impediment to the city’s fine citizens.

But these are clearly questions that will remain mysteries.

I can’t even escape the construction calamity at home at night anymore. For a while, I thought I was at least safe in my own yard and driveway, but, as I discovered – no, not by a long shot. The other day, I came home and there was a stream of water running down the curb in front of my house even though it hadn’t rained for days, and I thought, “Oh no, this is not going to be good,” and a few hours later the whole area suddenly looked like the Chinese South-to-North Water Transfer Project. There were giant machines and trucks lined down every street in every direction and the work went on for days and days.

They parked police cars outside my house with the blinking blue light going on, flooding in my windows all night long. I was so amazed that, one night, I got out of bed and walked down the street taking a video on my iPhone of truck after truck, monster after machine. It was like that scene at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the government is taking over the small town in Wyoming claiming there was a chemical spill when they were really getting ready for the aliens.

I texted my neighbor one night, “I think the aliens must have landed in your yard.”

The air stayed smoky from all the jackhammered concrete. There was the continuous pulsing beat of deep-shaft mining, and a steady beep, beep, beep from the trucks backing up. With the late-night flashing lights, the ground-shaking beat and the smoke everywhere, I thought about calling my friends and having an impromptu rave in my living room but unfortunately I was all out of ecstasy.

Every time I walked outside, I wanted to scream: “This is no water leak! What kind of fool do you take me for? I demand to see the aliens!”

Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

Listen, everyone, calm down. Take it slooooow. This is supposed to be Greensboro, not the Andrassy Castle maze in Tiszadob.

(Oh for goodness’ sakes, just look it up …)