Have you ever been convinced that there is an evil genius who rigs the traffic lights of Medford to stop the maximum number of motorists for the maximum amount of time? Well, sure. But don't you want to know more?
Boy, have we got a story for you. Several, actually.
Who tickets your car when it's parked a nanosecond over the limit? Where can you find somebody to set an ailing pipe organ right? And who, other than bulls, inseminates cows these days?
We might see the daily life of a modern community as the nexus of a million and one processes and relationships, each with its poor players who strut and fret their hours on the job but are seldom heard.
A transportation system doesn't just require drivers and pilots, it needs somebody to scan and sort bags for the airlines, somebody to deliver cars to far-off cities, and somebody to set those danged traffic signals.
If somebody is killing mosquitoes because they are nasty things that carry disease, somebody else, sadly, is euthanizing dogs and cats, often because not everybody is responsible enough to spay and neuter.
We make big-picture plans for major catastrophes, but in the meantime, somebody has to keep the water on. We throw lawbreakers in jail, then we minister to their spiritual needs. We embalm and make-up the dead even as we dispose of body parts of the still-living, the remnants of surgery.
People, our neighbors, do these things, and more. Things we may not think of, but without which — well, without is unthinkable.
Who are they?
The man who sets all of Medford's 107 traffic signals, for instance, is city traffic engineer Peter Mackprang. And he doesn't have fangs, a Dr. Evil scowl or an evil cackle.
In fact, he spends his time tweaking all those signals out there with the goal of minimizing time wasted by motorists sitting at signals. Mackprang is a traffic wonk who lights up when he gets talking about the likes of a "coordinated timing plan" or a "time-space diagram."
When you begin scratching around about town, you find all kinds of jobs you never thought about. Somebody's gotta do them.
Some are common to any community: Who sweeps the streets? Who keeps track of the stuff the cops seize as evidence? Who plays Santa?
Others are recognizable as part of the specific warp and woof of the Rogue Valley:
Who dresses the black bird statue on West Main Street? Who changes all those flags in Shady Cove? Who runs the flag up at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Elizabethan Stage?
So enjoy this special section. It's what happens when a bunch of people with nothing better to do look around and ask the question:
Who does that?