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Where’s Our LBT?!?!??!

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After the street crew parked everything for the weekend, having done as much damage as they could for one week, I didn’t see our old friend, Little Blue Thing.

I walked out to where all the machines, gravel, asphalt and pipe were on the side of the road, and looked around.

Wait a minute! Is that a little blue nose sticking out of that giant steel contraption used to keep the sides of the hole from caving in?

Yes! LBT is hiding inside it. I don’t know if he was driven into it via his remote-control box or if the machine operator placed the contraption over LBT.

It’s a snug fit, no matter how he got in there.

“I Have Got to Get Me One of These!”

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You already know what Will Smith movie the header quote came from, so I won’t bother telling you.

The WSSC is tearing up our street again, and the letter they sent to us all promised that, during this project, we’d see “interesting machines.” Patty thought that was a strange thing for them to say, but it has proved to be true.

My neighbors and I– at least the male neighbors– have fallen in love with this little blue thing. We all want one.

It’s about half the size of a car, articulated in the middle, and is radio controlled. When it’s powered up, the round light in front flashes orange and it begins to shudder, like a puppy held tight on a leash:

It isn’t speedy, but it is determined as it moves down the road. It’s shape gives it an R2-D2 quality.

Here it is relentlessly proceeding to the actual holes in the street down our hill:

Here’s the fellow controlling it with a black box about the size of a Lipton’s tea-bag package. He stands pretty far away from this unit, so I couldn’t get them both in the same photo. The controller’s skill is high; we watched him parallel park the thing and it was most impressive.

The technical name for this device, based upon the knobby wide metal wheels, is, I believe, a “smusher.”

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE:
Here we see Little Blue Thing parked alongside its bigger brother, Somewhat Larger Blue Thing. Go ahead; call them The Blues Brothers.


As happens occasionally even in human families, the smaller brother is the cuter one. The larger one is not unattractive, but its need to have a steering wheel, driver’s seat and roll bar get in the way of its smooth lines. It looks purposeful but not cute.

In addition, the bulging hood on Somewhat Larger Blue Thing, combined with the row of vents at the sides of the hood, give this fellow a more aggressive look. It’s like what happened to the Ford Mustang after it had been out a couple of years.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:

Our hero, LBT (Little Blue Thing) gets a chance to show its stuff as it takes on the challenge of smushing down the red-clay dirt at the bottom of a deep trench. Notice how the crew lowers LBT down into the trench using some large machine:

Once in the trench, you can sense the LBT’s enthusiasm as it trembles in anticipation before the control-person sends it into action. Clearly in its element, LBT blithely rolls back and forth, smushing with abandon. Even the jaded construction crew smiles with joy and– yes– pride as they watch LBT’s antics:


FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE:

The crew working on this sewer project are splendid; they get in early, work steadily all day and clean up before they leave in the evening; not only sweeping the street but washing down where they’ve worked.

And I can’t say “these guys” are excellent; there are women among the crew. They dress the same as the men, including the green safety vests, so it isn’t immediately obvious that they’re female.

Some of our neighbors were initially rather upset that this work wasn’t done a couple of years ago when our street was totally replaced, but the super job that the WSSC contractors are doing has put most of that feeling to rest. After the crew leaves each day, many of us are outside marveling at the way they’ve approached their task.

So it’s become sort of a social thing but then again this is a close-knit community.