#962 Being the guy on the construction crew who gets to hold the Stop sign

Sometimes you drive by those construction workers and you just can’t believe what they’re going through.

Everyone’s face is covered in hot soot, sewer grease, and rain. One guy is up to his neck in the road, another is jackhammering his spinal column into dust, and then there’s the guy driving the big roller, smearing steaming asphalt around like butter. And littering all these folks are the guys cranking pickaxes into the ground and the ones trying to steer big, clunky bulldozers down the narrow gravel shoulder beside the ditch. Of course, everyone on the team’s losing brain cells by the minute from the fumes which smell like a jammed laser printer had sex with a gas station.

If you happen to be working on a team of construction workers, then I think you’re pretty lucky if they hand you the job of being the guy who gets to hold the Stop sign. You must be either the grizzled veteran who earned each day of the Stop sign job with each slipped disc over the years, or you’re the skinny, babyfaced newbie who nobody trusts within a quarter mile of the job site.

Either way, if you can handle the guilt then your job’s, well…


Best job ever

51 thoughts on “#962 Being the guy on the construction crew who gets to hold the Stop sign

  1. I don’t know how things work in your neck of the woods, but out here in the greater Seattle area, it seems that road crews typically consist of about 8 people. 6 of those people set up cones and then sit on whatever horizontal surfaces they can find drinking coffee and smoking while 1 guy holds the stop sign and 1 guy does the actual road work. When the one guy finishes up for the day, the 6 cone specialist spring back into action and pick up all the cones and call it a day. Around here it’s the guys who pull cone duty that really have it made.

  2. As a former road construction worker, I have to say that this is the newbie job. Long periods of standing, no human interaction, just holding the ol’ stop sign. I recall my days of marching like a tin soldier back and forth singing songs in my head to occupy my time. On second thought, maybe it was awesome…

  3. I always thought the guy holding the stop sign was a temp, some schlub who is scraping by and learns that he’s got the best possible temp job ever. Then, he thinks, things are really gonna go his way!

  4. I’ve had this job and it sucks, drivers get very cranky and threatening very fast when you slow down their commute. Plus 10 hours on your feet in the sun, no bathroom breaks, eating lunch standing up, getting yelled at by angry driver does not equal a good job.

  5. I had this job one summer. We were working on a lonely highway through the woods right at the boundary of a large military base. I was standing there when a tank came lumbering out of the woods (off base territory) up onto the highway and towards me. I checked the opposing traffic and had to spin the sign from “slow” to “stop”. The tank stopped a few feet from my spot, waited untill I spun the sign and I waved him through. He rumbled past our crew, made a right hand turn after he was back on base property, and disappeared into the woods. THAT was awsome!

  6. I have to disagree. This is the worst assignment when you’re on the site. I would rather be busting my ass doing work than standing flat-footed and baking in the sun. Also, time goes by excruciatingly slowly when you’re the flagger, except when you have an angry driver miss hitting you by inches.

    1. I agree, I worked with road maintenance last summer and although it was nice that we switched positions occasionally, I dreaded when it was my turn to hold the stop sign. I think the worst are the old people that just shouldn’t be on the road anymore, followed closely by those who get angry that we are making the roads better for driving because it slows them down for a little bit. But I did have enough fun to pull me back next summer.

  7. I was waiting for my dad at a gas station once, and there was some road work next to it. The stop sign guy must have been in color guard in high school because he would *BAM!* Show the stop sign to one side of the road while at the same time showing the slow sign to the other. He would then twirl the sign ~25 times, hand over hand, then he would *BAM!* spin around and flip the sign then start all over. I must say, it was awesome.

  8. Can I just ask then why it always seems to be women I see holding the stop signs at construction sites?

    Why is that? Are they given the easy task because they’re women and god forbid they should do a “man’s job”?

    I really am very very curious as I’ve noticed it a LOT lately!

    Any insight, anyone?

    1. Imagine you are a male road construction foreman. You work with sweaty greasy guys all year round. It’s summer, peak work season, and many university students are looking for work. You decide to hire a student to run the slow/stop sign for your crew. The work isn’t very technical, and really, anyone with a pulse could do it. You interview a slack-jawed stoner, some jock, and a Smoking Hot twenty year old woman. Who do you hire?

    2. because women like you think they want to do man’s work and this is the job to break in the newbie and see if they’re worth a shit. needless to say, you don’t often see them make it past this point. now go back to starbucks, get your whatever its called $10 coffee, and go bitch about feminism.

  9. I was wondering how you would go about getting a job holding the stop sign. I have summers off and thought it would be a good way to earn some extra money.

  10. i m with peter on this one, drivers will get angry and speed up and pass you at 50 with inches to spare, like i was happy to be standing there in 120 degree weather.

    Time was going backwards on that job.

    Glad i went back to college

  11. I know a guy who had this job last summer. He said the best part is when you recognize someone driving towards you and you flip the sign to “stop” then point and laugh at them.

  12. Not such an awesome job. The guy holding the sign is a whole lot more likely to be hit by a car. They are the red shirt guys of the construction world.

  13. I used to live in Boston. Let me tell you holding a stop sign is a lot harder then you could imagine and without people like us the jobs would never get finished. The workers are dependent on us stop sign holders!

    1. You are SO right, Serge! We not only have to protect ourselves, the workers, and the drivers, but have to be alert to the construction vehicles entering and leaving the sight, so that traffic isn’t interrupted. You have to be “on” the entire time your are working, and seldom get breaks. For us women, no one thinks to ask if we need a bathroom break, while usually there is at least ONE of the the workers standing around waiting for the current bit of work to be done. My bladder now knows when I am at work. Though I stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water, I am able to go hours w/out a break. We usually have to eat while working, as well. The jobs can last anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, or more. The best thing about the job: the weather. The worst thing: the weather(!). Other than all of that, I like the job. You have a certain amount of autonomy, and you are the manager of the traffic flow. And I am a construction junkie, but too old, now to participate – perfect situation for me! Oh, yeah, and it’s a union job, so pay and benefits are awesome…!

  14. I’ve had this job the pat 2 summers as an “intern” at the local county engineer’s office, and let me tell you, it’s terrible. It’s the worst job on the crew. Not only is it boring as hell and stressful thanks to all of the blind old people and impatient jerks on the road, but you also have to be the first one out on the road and you don’t get any breaks like the rest of the crew, because you still have to direct traffic around all of the equipment that’s still sitting on the road. Some way to pay for college…

  15. “fumes which smell like a jammed laser printer had sex with a gas station.”

    Can’t say whether this job is shitty or awesome, but that cracked me up.

  16. My aunt did this job for many years. She made $20+ per hour. She did get hit once and got a huge amount of $$$ for it from the jerkazoid who decided to be impatient. She got better and still works on road construction sites and has a hefty retirement fund to sit on when she decides to retire.

  17. i would like to know how to get this job i live in lincoln, il and have no clue were to start if someone can please help email me at auntie1986@yahoo.com or text 217-870-0823 thanks for your help

  18. I worked on construction crew a long time ago and this was THE WORST assignment EVER. It was terribly boring when there was no traffic (no one to interact with for hours and if you ever have to “use the facilities” (that didn’t even exist) – no one would bother to “relieve” you for literally hours!) and it was humiliating to downright frightening when there was traffic. Drivers would often yell nasty comments or throw trash while zooming by or completely ignore my request that they slow down or follow the cones. One time a school bus nearly ran me down after driving over the line of cones and aiming straight for the gaping hole in the road. I think people who have never had to do it might think this kind of job is easy, pleasant or “cushy”, but for me any other kind of hard labor was far preferable.

  19. Wow, I was going to comment on how it seems like the job would be terrible… but reading through all the comments I’ve found that there are several people who actually agree that it is an awesome job, and then those that say that it is a hard job, but an extremely important one, which is also “awesome.” I suppose it depends on what kind of road construction it is and where it is located i.e. city, country, big city, east coast, west, middle… that determines the “ease” of this job when compared to the other jobs. “Red shirt” guy or not, “Slacker” or not, this has made me come to realize that it is indeed Awesome… Would I want to do it? NO… but still it’s awesome!

  20. I do this job (traffic control) in Australia and it can be both a hard and easy job. Long hours (ave 12) on your feet with no breaks – because theres a big hole in the road (or other lol), rain/hot sun/cold early mornings, and add to that the abusive and dangerous drivers on the road (Traffic controllers have a very high injury rate on roadside worksites). But you can sometimes get easy jobs in quiet locations too, but these are few and far between unfortunately. There are still some good and patient drivers who understand we are only doing our jobs and keeping them safe. And alot of friendly truckies and drivers out there too, happy to wait their turn and give you a beep/wave as they go past – SLOWLY!

  21. hmmm, let’s see, how come this one isn’t familiar to me.. oh, maybe it’s because I’ve never been a part of such crew. But i guess it beats doing construction, so yeah ITS AWESOME :)

  22. Most workers holding the stop and go sign on construction sites complain about the abuse and nasty language from drivers.
    The way I look at it, take the good with the bad. How many drivers have a smile and a big hello for the worker holding the sign to help make his day. I wave, smile and even talk to the sign holder, ask them if they are hungry and give them a candy bar.

  23. I used to work Road construction one summer during college. It was the greatest job ever and I can say from experience that the stop sign goes to the new guy! I don’t know how many miles of road we put down that summer, but it was one of the best I have had. The guy holding the sign also holds the life of the workers and everyone driving in his hands also. You have to be able to control the traffic to ensure everyone is safe. Sometimes you get lucky and get to have a truck with a radio next to you, or else you might just be out there on 120 degree pavement in 90 weather with nothing to do but count the cars!

  24. Have a bro’ in law who had this job; said it was the most dangerous one he ever had; that people were very rude for him doing his job; even at times wanted a rowe.
    So it is the courageous too that can handle this job with a smile. People need to understand, they are keeping everyone safe and sustaining their lives so we can all have safer roads…Stop and think about this people please!

  25. I work in NYC and the guy with the best smile in the world is the stop sign construction guy I see almost every day!

    1. I don’t know if it works like this everywhere, but in ND, the construction company that gets the bid is responsible for providing the flaggers to do traffic control. So, you have to apply for a job with the construction company. Women are often hired for flagging because it helps fulfill EOE quotas for minorities. I did road construction for 5 summers doing traffic control, general labor, and training to run equipment towards the end. Sometimes it was the best job ever, and other times it was the worst. It all depended on the weather, the drivers, and the foreman.

  26. first off a slack jawed stoner will get you killed in a work zone. we hire male and female for traffic control we have a traffic safety division that is hired just for traffic control we have zero tollerance for drugs and alcohal. you have to be very attentive when doing traffic control .paying attention to drivers making shure they see you , moving the paddle side to side just to get a drivers attention to notice you not to mention the big orange signs they drive by, one lane road ahead, be prepared to stop , and the all telling big black flagger sign then you have us with the paddle . And we still get .. Well we didnt see you , or why dont you have something back there to tell us your here, the peaple on cell phones ,texting, eating, doing there make up,SPEEDING THRU THE WORK ZONE, on top of that you you have workers who depond on the traffic control person t protect them while there doing the asphalt, utilities machine opperators the dump truck drivers the the roads crossing your work zone tree falling etc the goes on theres alot going on the driver has no idea what is happening down the road. aound the corners , and its why we have radios to talk to each other ,when to send traffic or hold your traffic and my last vehicle colr and make is ?????? when we stop you in the 120 degree weather its not fun and games its to protect you from meeting another vehicle head on or running into equipment in the road getting hurt or worse killing a worker , yourself or god forbid a family of peaple heading out of town on vacation. Any traffic person who has been there knows this..and its always on our minds and we want to go home at the end of the day too and say i did my job no one got hurt today on my watch admittedly there are some who dont get the proper training before picking up the paddle. And most only make 8.00 to 10.00 dollars an hr. where im at unless your a lead person then you make a little more . so remember when you come up to the guy on the paddle hwos been there all day and had very little break time . just remember hes there for your protection as well as his team members, and property because we all want to go homeat the end of the day to loved ones

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