My wife and I were enjoying a great impromptu dinner, with our amigos, Carol and Johnny “Spiderman” (we all call him by this self-ascribed poker call sign).
Me – “I need to raise an important topic.”
Spiderman – “Oh, here we go, a Cool Hand tangent (most my mates call me by my self-ascribed poker call sign). This won’t be important, it’ll be shit.”
Carol – “Quiet Johnny. This sounds important.” She slapped her husband gently on the back of the head. “Yes Jase, we’re listening.”
Me – “I was driving through Hornswood and I had to stop for road works. I sat in my car, at the front of the cue and I was immediately saddened… no, more than that, I was gutted. And then I was outraged!”
Spiderman – “Yeeees.”
Me – “I realized at that moment that we’d lost an icon, like Polly Waffles, throwdowns and the Tassie Tiger, that’s gone forever. The person operating the stop-sign, was an attractive young woman, wearing a figure-hugging, flouro safety vest!”
Isabel (my lovely wife) – “You pervert.”
Me – “My question is, where have the old stop-signer guys gone?? WHERE?? It’s been a tradition for, oh I don’t know, about the last 150 years, that the stop-signers were always the grumpy old guys who looked like the lovechild of Willie Nelson and a dirty version of Charles Bronson. The blokes with unshaven faces, long greasy grey hair, with a used-to-be-white hard hat, perched on top.”
Spiderman – “Another beer?”
Me – “Where have they gone?? The old blokes, who, stop-sign in hand, used to stare intimidatingly at Hornswood dads snuggled in their BMW’s or Audi’s on their way to work. The dads didn’t dare eyeball, but just waited patiently because the stop-signers had no doubt once kicked a man to death in a bar fight.”
I sipped my drink. “Hornswood dads didn’t dare drive off too early, while waiting for the sign to be turned, and they didn’t ever get any reaction when they give a thank you wave to the hardened stop-signer. They instantly regretted emasculating themselves by waving.
Where have they gone?? The wolf-whistling, wife-perving, swearing, punting, old dude. The skinny, wizened, sign-leaning, craggy old lads with the Tom Cruise reflecto sunnies who have been working the roads since 1976. The ones who have gained enough seniority to not have to dig, pat down molten tar, or get down and dirty in a hole. Where have they gone??”
Spiderman – “I’m ready for another beer. Your shout Cool Hand.”
Me – “The blokes with the rotten teeth and the ingrained dirtiness which is a badge of honour, only earned from working years in he sun and tar-fumes, while smoking 30 ciggies every day. The old stop-signers, who hold the sign as solid as a rock, in any weather, at any time of night or day and in any part of the city. Typhoon, stifling heat, torrential rain, snow, they don’t care, they just work the sign. The last true bastions of manhood. They are the stop-signers.
And what have they been replaced with?? Buxom, attractive, Irish backpackers!”
Isabel – “Pervert.”
Me – “It’s not like the crusty old blokes can walk into a new job at Maccas selling thick shakes. Any big accounting firms going to ship these guys in to start running their audits? Some of those flashy merchant bankers looking for a few more support staff? Unlikely.”
Spiderman – “YOUR SHOUT!”
Me – “The old stop signers need to eat you know! They need to pay rent and buy a shit-load of fuel! They need to finance a pack and a half a day and 6-8 schooners after work!”
Spiderman – “Cool Hand wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him.”
Me – “It used to be when a Hornswood dad pulled up next to a hardened old stop-signer, he could fart and check in his rearview mirror that he doesn’t have any boogers. Now there’s “Miss Dublin” standing right next to their window, busily checking her text messages while loosely flopping her sign all over the place, Hornswood dads are heading into their offices with potentially boogery noses and full of wind.
Where have the old stop signers gone? Somebody knows. SOMEBODY KNOWS!” I sighed and looked down at the table.
Carol – “You were right Johnny, that really was total shit.”
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