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Eugene Weekly : Living Out : 10.29.09




In Search of the Beaver Sisters

Flagging Desire, Part II

by Sally Sheklow

I’ve been on a quest to become one of those DayGlo-vested women who stand along the highways directing traffic. Ya gotta have a dream! 

I want into the traffic flagging profession. But it’s not that easy. Turns out you have to be certified to even apply for work, and you need special training to get certified, and it’s nearly impossible to find flagging trainers.

My years of networking for the LGBTQ cause have taught me to keep pushing and never give up. I called the local utility company who directed me to the Oregon Department of Transportation who suggested contacting the community college Road Safety Program who sent me to the offices of the County Workforce.

I showed up early and waited in line. I talked to an intake worker, filled out forms and took a computer assessment of my skills and experience (none very relevant to the traffic control field). Finally, someone handed me a purple sheet of paper listing local flagging trainers. 

I dashed out the double glass doors, victorious as a contestant on American Idol. I wasn’t going to Hollywood, but I was on my way to the next round in becoming a Road Warrior Goddess, aka traffic flagger. 

Nobody was there to cheer me on. My domestic partner, for some odd reason, isn’t enthusiastic about my intentions to work in speeding traffic with nothing to protect me but a vinyl vest and a hand-held STOP/SLOW sign. Go figure.

Not one to let the voice of reason slow me down, I took my purple paper and set about the task of getting  trained and certified. The listed flagger training company I was most interested in — guess why — was Beaver Flagging. No lie. What dyke wouldn’t want THAT on her resume? 

Oregon is officially “The Beaver State” — only part of my motivation for moving here in the 1970s. Our OSU team is the Beavers — just one of OSU’s many recruiting enticements. But I learned from Beaver Flagging’s website that it’s owned by two women who share a last name. The Beaver sisters. Sounded like lesbian code to me.

I got Beaver Flagging’s voicemail and left a message that felt oddly like a “Why I Want to be Miss Universe” speech. No call back. I tried half a dozen times over the next few days, leaving earnest requests explaining my desire to be trained by — and maybe someday work with — the Beaver sisters. No call back. Those must be some busy Beavers!

I kept trying until my call was finally answered. In a weary voice the woman said, “You have the wrong number. There’s no Beaver Flagging here.” And she added, maybe to soften the letdown, or to ward off a bad joke, “I get these calls all the time.”

I hope the Beaver babes haven’t gone out of business or moved on to some even higher calling, if there is such a thing. Beaver Flagging — a name I’d be more than proud to wear on my reflective safety vest. If I ever get to wear one. 

Stay tuned for the saga of award-winning writer Sally Sheklow’s continuing pursuit of happiness.