Interstate 40, Amarillo, Texas -- After twelve years of public service, the Department of Transportation has announced the retirement of one of the agency's most durable traffic cones.
"It's a sad day today," highway worker, Mike Davey, said as he gently wiped a tear away from his sun burnt face with the inside of his tar-stained shirt. "I'm sorry," he muttered, "it's just that I knew this day would one day come, you know? But I guess I just wasn't as prepared as I thought I was. It's just hard."
Davey, a large, thirty-one year-old sun-darkened man weighing in at two hundred fifty pounds and just shy of six foot two inches tall, has worked on the nation's highways for close to thirteen years. We caught up with him as he and his crew were taking a water break along Interstate 40, just outside of Amarillo, Texas.
"Well, I started right after high school," Davey explained, "and I've been out here ever since. It's a rough life, but somebody's gotta do it."
After a brief introduction to Davey's co-workers, the conversation turned to the sad news that was weighing on everyone's mind. "Dude, I'm gonna miss that fucking cone" one worker blurted out. "No shit man, me too" another agreed.
As for Davey, it was apparent the news was weighing in on him the heaviest. "I'm the one that named that cone -- Ole Speed Bump," he explained. "It was the first damned day on the job for that cone and we had him out there on Exit duty blocking Exit #29."
Vacillating back and forth between sobbing and laughing, Davey continued, "Heck, he hadn't been out there no more than fifteen minutes before an eighteen-wheeler decides to crash the got-damned exit. I was on the shitter at the time when I heard all the commotion going on -- tires a screeching, the thud of cones slammin' up into the bumper. Fucked 'em all up. Hell, and we had to throw away ever last one of 'em too, all 'cept one: Ole Speed Bump."
However, one of Davey's favorite stories of Speed Bump involved the time it was hit by a train. Clearly amused, Davey removed his sunglasses exposing his blood-shot, raccoon circled eyes.
"Well, we had been working in the vicinity of a railroad when Ole Speed Bump got caught up under some idiot's car. Hell it was dragged half a mile but was finally let loose when the dumbass crossed the railroad tracks. Before we had a chance to go look for it, a motorist brought it back to us all smashed and scraped the hell up. Said it just got hit by a fucking train! Jeeze!"
"Well, we knew then we had us something special," Davey remarked. "All in all that cone was prolly smashed a good hunerd times. Heck, the only reason they're retiring it now is 'cause we got us a bunch of newuns."
Twelve years and countless stories later, Ole Speed Bump has moved on. "Well, it's hard to tell" Davey mused when asked of Speed Bump's future. "Most of the time they just throw 'em away," he explained holding back tears. "I offered to give it a good home, but I ain't allowed to own it since it's property of the State."
Davey then paused briefly before noting hopefully, "But you never know. Maybe the Park Service will adopt it and give it a good home. After twelve years of dodging trains trucks and automobiles, that ole cone deserves some R&R duty. Besides, I think Ole Speed Bump has a few years left in him anyway."
After a long silence interrupted only by the occasional sniffle, Mike Davey looked up and placed his sunglasses back on his face before managing a final request: "Just keep the little guy in your prayers, will ya?" He then grabbed his gloves and walked off in the direction of the shitter.