It has always been difficult to explain the intricacies of my work to family and friends back home. I usually leave it at civil engineer and if I am in a wicked mood I might tell nosy aunty from next door that I drive a big truck and supervise guys building roads. This sufficiently blue collar explanation goes down much better than the traffic engineering spiel. So what do I do? Well, I travel the length and breadth of two of Maryland's most densely populated counties for a living. Really, that's what I do...kind of. I help the agency I work for solve traffic and pedestrian issues, congestion issues etc. The work involves a lot of travel and I love the sense of freedom that being alone on the roads brings...
Sometimes in a leafy suburb a young mother might stop by to chat, or on a cold morning the guys at the community fire station might offer me a coffee.
Sometimes I find myself in neighborhoods where life has become a humiliating chore for the inhabitants, where no one smiles and I lock my self in my car, pull up my windows and keep the engine running while I try to work.
Sometimes the congested highway gives way to a rural two lane roadway that winds through farmland.
Sometimes there is no gas station for miles or even worse, a restroom.
Sometimes when I stop and look, I find beauty in strange places, like this stop on the old railroad system. The bright red engine is now a museum, a reminder of more busy times, when the trains did stop by.