Traffic control is no crying game
WHEN she first started on the job, highway traffic controller Rita Parsons used to get so upset when abused by motorists that she couldn’t hold back the tears.
‘‘ I used to cry,’’ she said yesterday as she stood on the Bruce Highway near Bowen, master and commander of the north-bound traffic lane.
Rita and her colleague Tegan, a few hundred metres to the north, were all that stood between the road workers labouring between them and the hurtling missiles of n o r t h a n d s o u t h - b o u n d engine-driven metal, hellbent on getting to one destination or another.
Not all drivers are happy when they see a red STOP sign loom in front of them. Truckies in particular have a dislike of having to stop. It means they then have to go through the gears to get back to cruising speed once they are given the SLOW sign to proceed.
Some of them give Rita and her colleagues an earful.
Rita and Tegan are just two of a growing number of women who are enjoying life on the road, marshalling traffic in order to protect road workers.
Jacqui Davy from Townsville traffic control company
FRIENDLY WAVE: Rita Parsons is one of a growing number of controllers on our roads Arid to Oasis Traffic Solutions spent six years on the road wielding a STOP-SLOW sign. Now she’s in the office, looking after bookings and taking care of job rotations.
‘‘ We have a lot of women here now. It’s about 50-50 ratio of men to women,’’ she said.
‘‘ It’s casual work so you get weekend and night-time penalty rates on top of what is about a $ 20 an hour standard rate of pay.’’
The working day can range from four to 14 hours and even longer if something happens that can’t wait to be repaired. Ms Davy said the job wasn’t just about standing on the road with a sign. She said there was a lot of lifting and placing of traffic control equipment at the start and end of every shift.
The days since Ms Parsons used to shed a tear when some inconsiderate motorist gave her a spray for inter- rupting his or her journey have long gone.
One thing she has noticed is that male motorists are far more likely to hurl abuse at female traffic controller than they are at a bloke.
What helps make her day is people giving her a wave as they drive past.