Cone Man the Roadman


Right; let me make myself perfectly clear – OCD is no laughing matter! And this post is not intended to poke fun at anyone who has OCD, or offend anyone who knows someone who has.

People living with OCD generally have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions,  sometimes both, and these symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships. It can be a crippling condition.

As an Employment Consultant specializing in placing people living with disability I thought I knew a little bit about OCD and how it can effect people in the workplace. But last weekend I learnt a very valuable insight into the work life of someone living with OCD.

It was a cloudy Saturday morning and my family and I were driving from Nelson to Hanmer Springs, an alpine village famous for its beautiful hot springs.


Its about a 3.5 hour drive and we were driving down to meet with family and stay for the ANZAC Day Holiday weekend. ANZAC day is a day of national importance for NZ and as a family we try to spend ANZAC weekend together.

To learn more about ANZAC Day please check out my ANZAC post from 2 years ago:

Also, here’s Maddie singing ‘Lest we forget’, also from 2 years ago (she was 8)

So anyway!

About an hour and a half into our journey (just past Murchison) we were required to stop for Road Works. Being stopped is a bummer on any journey, but on a holiday weekend, and keen to catch up with loved ones, it seems especially so. luckily though we were the  first vehicle to be stopped, giving us a clear view of the road works ahead of us.

Graders were working furiously, clearing and tidying up the edges of the road as quickly as the could. Lollipop people holding stop go signs were stationed at either end of the road works, heads down, their eyes averted, trying to avoid contact with seething drivers (why do they do this on the weekend?)

But in the middle of this all this  – amongst  the activity and noise Cone Man was placing cones to create a one lane passage way for cars to pass through.

cone man 2

Please note this is not the real Cone Man

Cone Man was bloody good at his job. Bloody bloody good! As in the picture above the road works were close to a bend, but this didn’t stop him lining up all the cones so they were perfectly in line.  And when they weren’t in line he would make microscopic adjustments to  them – one at time. He was precision personified.  He would start at one end and then work his way back along the line to the other. Only then to find out the cones in the middle had mischievously moved out of alignment. So he would go back to sort them out, only to find that either beginning or end of the line was then out.

After ten minutes waiting and watching, I could see the importance of such a task, and in the spirit of generosity I genuinely wanted to get out and help him. If I had a theodolite, level and rod, even a simple measuring tape – I would have gladly gifted it to him.  Even, Kate and Maddie joined in too, shouting words of  encouragement.

‘to the left a little,’

‘to the right,’

‘no the other one’

‘go back, go back!’

Alas, with our windows closed, he couldn’t hear us.

After 15 minutes of waiting, it was our turn to proceed along the one lane passageway, past the Lollipop lady, who once again averted her eyes, past the graders, and as we approached and passed Cone Man, Kate wound down her window.

‘You’re doing a great job‘ – she offered, but all to no avail. Cone Man had his head down and was busy adjusting the cone in front of him by a few millimeters.

This week this little encounter has had me questioning my assumptions about suitable jobs for people living with OCD. And I know I am going to be more judicious about what might work and what won’t. I’m not sure being a Road Man does.

Kia Ora


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