In the Northwest corner of the United States, we have four seasons. We love them all, almost. These are not the seasons you were taught in school. They are fall, winter, spring, and construction season.
That’s right. The fourth season, known in some places as summer, is marked by orange cones, hard-hat wearing shovel leaners, and flashing yellow lights that mean one simple thing: you’re not going anywhere fast.
From “Lane Closed Ahead” to “Flagman Ahead, Expect Delays” the signs decorate the sides of nearly every road. The winters are hard, and the time to repair the damage such a small window, it seems unavoidable. If the roads don’t get fixed, we complain. While they are being fixed, we complain just as much. Here are three things to be thankful for this Construction Season.
Okay, yeah. A rock chip in your window sucks, and you will get them during construction season. It is simply a matter of when not if. Carrying glass coverage on your vehicle in our area is like carrying water in the summer: you just have to do it.
Think of it this way though: cars did not always have the best windshields. Early ones would shatter if struck by even a small rock, cutting all the occupants inside. Henry Ford got sued a few times over tragic accidents, and then things changed.
The modern use of laminated glass similar to that of your cell phone screen means windshields are safer than they have ever been and even contribute a great deal to the structural integrity of your car.
So next time you curse a rock chip, just be thankful the whole windshield did not land in your lap and cut your arms to shreds. If you do get a chip or even small crack, find a local glass replacement dealer, and get it fixed. That’s what you pay all that money to your insurance company for.
That same windshield that keeps out the road debris and doesn’t shatter in your lap holds in one important thing: air conditioning. We can control our climate even as we roll down the road at 70 miles an hour, but it becomes even more important when we are whizzing by orange pylons at 15.
It used to be that running your air conditioning when at a standstill was a death sentence for your car’s cooling system. Modern vehicles, if well maintained, can handle this task, although you should still be cautious in extreme temperature climates like Vegas, Phoenix, or the small desert towns in-between.
Air conditioning also used to be bad for the environment until we started using R-134a instead of R-12. Those systems have gotten better since their introduction, although idling in a construction zone is still not best for the trees around you, and you might want to save them. Otherwise, where will you run hide to use the restroom when you can’t wait any longer and traffic is still not moving.
Despite its limitations, air conditioning is better than rolled down windows and stealing ice from the cooler to put down your shirt (or elsewhere).
Remember when you would get out into the middle of nowhere, and your radio would get crackly and fuzzy? Or when you would reach the part of Wyoming where they had both kinds of music stations, country and western, and that was all? Unless you had an extensive collection of first 8 tracks, then cassettes, then CDs, you were sunk. It was either listen to the kids squabble, actually talk to each other (gasp!), or suffer in silence.
Now, all our music is digital, and we can transport thousands of songs, an actual music library on our phones or other devices. We can connect them to the car radio in several ways, even using an FM transmitter and creating our own radio station of sorts.
This means everyone can have their own device as well. Dad can put his tunes on the radio, and mom and the kids can listen to whatever they want using headphones or other devices in the passenger and back seats without argument.
With all the complaining we do about construction season, we need better roads, and we can also be thankful for those who fix them for us. While we hate the hours of sitting in line with other cars, we can count our blessings that we are not driving cars with dangerous glass (or worse, with none at all), we have air conditioning, and we can take our music with us rather than being at the mercy of local radio.