This road project consisted of 3 phases: "A", "B",and "C". The "A" phase was fairly easy construction: plenty of existing right of way and a cleared and fairly level roadbed. The "B" section was the most challenging: 3 creeks had to be crossed, and there was quite a bit of fill dirt that had to be shifted around, and hauled in.
Also, there's a recent highway design standard that seeks to level out roads and eliminate curves. Not only does this make roads safer, it saves fuel. In addition, the height above local groundwater level for roads is being increased. Some roads used to flood. The newer ones are built well above the level of older roads. Since Polly and the Mack brothers had things under control, Ram thought he should check out progress on Phase "B". He also wanted to talk to John Deere.

Phase "B"

Before any of layers of limerock, clay, or asphalt can be laid down, the roadway has to be filled and leveled. Trees have to come down and stumps removed. The road must cross areas ranging from sand to clay to swamp. Hills have to be leveled. Valleys filled. Bridges built and culverts installed. Most big road projects are done in stages, and this one had three. The first part, a section near the city, was due be completed in a few months. One section in the middle was about a year away, and was still being cleared of stumps. A whole lot of fill dirt was going to be needed to cross a valley with a small creek running through it.

John Deere

John Deere was digging a ditch for culverts which would go under the road. Not only would the creek run through these: animals would cross under the road, and avoid becoming "Road kill!"

John pivoted his huge bucket around as Ram drove up.
"How are things going, John?"
"It is a good day to dig!" said John.
John always said this. He was very proud of his Native American heritage. His ancestor, 2 Lung Johnny, taught early American farmers a better way to farm, and his forebearers were instrumental in making the United States the breadbasket of the world.

Nowadays the Deere clan is involved with all sorts of heavy equipment. John Deere's family had worked for the company for years. In fact, Ram's father, Dodge, and John Deere's father, John Sr. worked together for the company before they retired. Ram respected John's opinions, and also knew he noticed a lot. If something was wrong, very likely John had picked up on it.

"Listen, John: I've got this uneasy feeling there's some potholes coming up on this road project. Everything is on schedule, but I have a bad feeling" Ram said.

"I too have sensed a rock or a hard place on the horizon. A feeling that if we continue on this path, it may affect the road." John replied.

"What do you think the problem is?" Ram asked.

"There seems to be a lot of tension. Almost like bad fuel was going around, but I know our diesel is clean. " John said. Mean things are being said. Cruel pranks are happening. This is not a child's sandbox. Yet I see professionals acting like children at play. Some kidding is OK. But when all you hear is constant ridicule, some are hurt, and none are helped. If there is a lot of strife it can distract you, and make it hard to keep your eyes on the road. You know my heritage! We're tough enough to endure most anything, so stupid talk doesn't affect me. Some are not so strong. And bullies seek the weak."

"Just between you and me and the pine trees: Any names?" Ram asked.

"Bull Dozer." John replied.

"I saw him sling mud on the road Sammy Sweeper had just finished. He waves his blade at me, and sometimes makes a tomahawk chop motion. One day he backfired at me, and said,"Gonna do me some Deer hunting!". He does a war whoop sometimes. He even insulted my ancestor, 2 lung Johnny: Called him a Redskin Redneck Plowboy!
Stupid actions and words affect me very little. Still, like my ancestor 2 Lung Johnny used to say, "A peaceful day can be shattered by raucous crows." Bull Dozer is big and strong, but strength without wisdom is dangerous. Some of the strong are insecure in spite of their physical strength, so they persecute the weak to make them feel powerful."John said.
"Thanks for the info!" Ram said. "Maybe I'll have a talk with Sammy".

NEXT: Chapter (4) "Sammy and Polly"




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