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Occupational Hazards of the Writing Life

May 8, 2008 at 9:01 am

I walk to work almost every day. But I frequently use that time to daydream about my various writing projects, so maybe I don't notice my surroundings quite as closely as I should.

Several months ago, a bit of road maintenance and landscaping work forced me to alter my route slightly. That lasted for a week or two. Then the work trucks, barrels, and yellow tape disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. Other than a new 3' x 3' square of chain-link fence surrounding something wrapped in plastic, the workers left nothing behind. I assumed they would be returning for more work at some point, and that the new chain-link cell contained equipment or supplies. Never occurred to me to actually read the sign on the fence, even though I've been walking past it twice per day for months.

I did look yesterday. The sign says

Caution: Radioactive Material

Truthfully, I'm unconcerned about the health and safety aspects. (After all, practically everything is radioactive, if you look closely enough. I probably receive a higher dose of radiation from cosmic rays in one year, owing to the fact I live at 7300', than I would receive from 100 years of walking past that whatever-it-is every day.)

But, you know, kinda feels like I should start paying attention to my surroundings. That seems like the kind of thing a person should notice.


bkdunn May 10, 2008 at 9:01 pm
One time driving in Czech hills near the German border I passed a sign that read "close windows when lights are flashing". I can only imagine what would've been escaping from the underground bunkers that could've required that warning. And I have a watch with tritium on its hands, which makes me feel like I'm cheating death every day. Welcome to the club.
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