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Over a Barrel – Mount Pleasant, SC: an essay by Darrel B. Barrel

Editor’s Note: Darrel, one of the many construction barrels playing an important role in Mount Pleasant’s never-ending road improvement program, generously offered to compose an essay about his experiences living on and near the roads East of the Cooper. We’re grateful to Darrel for his interesting perspective, which we could barrel-ly get translated. We hope that you enjoy reading this piece, and, on behalf of Darrel and his fellow barrels, please be careful out there.

Darrel and his friends direct traffic in Mount Pleasant, SC

It’s an early morning in always pleasant Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and I’m suddenly jarred awake by a warm stream of water right in my eye. Unfortunately, it’s not rain; it’s spray from a nearby mud puddle, flung unceremoniously onto me by a passing vehicle. I get it – people around here have places to go. But is it all that necessary for them to speed through standing water, indiscriminately soaking innocent bystanders such as myself?

That’s the thing about humans: They think that only they matter. But what about me and my million or so close friends? Do they ever consider how barrels feel? The other day, for example, I was enjoying a sunny, mild day and the gentle scent of jasmine. It might have been a Sunday because I don’t remember the usual flock of workers hanging around. All of sudden, my reverie was interrupted by two SUVs barely grazing each other in a line of traffic. There was no real damage, but both vehicles pulled to what passes as the side of the road these days, practically knocking my friend Barry the Barrel flat on his side. Mayhem ruled. Rather than being thankful that no one was injured – although poor Barry nearly had a heart attack – the drivers were concerned only about the condition of their precious SUVs. I mean, vehicles are inanimate objects, for Pete’s sake!

“Watch where you’re going!” bellowed a blond woman wearing spandex and grasping a giant cup of coffee. “You practically knocked my daughter’s organic apple juice out of her hand.”

“Well heck, if you hadn’t stopped so quickly, maybe I wouldn’t have had to look your tacky bumper stickers in the face,” retorted the other woman, wielding her gigantic handbag like a weapon.

I couldn’t believe these ladies were bickering on such a beautiful day. I tried to say something but, since human beings never listen to me, anything that emerged from my mouth would have been largely pointless. So I turned myself toward the sun, to the best of my ability, and allowed its soothing rays to reflect off my bright orangeness and shine peacefully on their faces.

“It’s so pretty outside, even with all this going on,” the handbag assassin finally relented. “I don’t think there’s been any harm done.” Sally Spandex agreed, and they both smiled.

It worked!

I haven’t always lived in Mount Pleasant. About a year ago, I rolled down the back of a truck along with my other round, brightly-colored friends, fresh from the factory. I am glad to be here; Mount Pleasant is a beautiful place, and, to be perfectly frank, if I have to spend my days and nights on the side of a well-traveled highway, I’d rather do it here than just about any other place. The weather is almost always warm, and, with the constant construction, there are always other barrels to talk with. Humans generally have little to say to me – at least nothing I can repeat here – but, once in a while, a friendly bird will drop by for conversation and even bring me a grimy french fry or something else good to eat.

All things considered, I’d like to make Mount Pleasant my permanent home. It already seems like I’ve been here forever.

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