August 10, 2006
Dougherty County -- The blistering heat that can easily make it feel like an unbearable 110º and raises the question: How can anyone survive working outside day after day?
They must know a special way to beat the heat. A veteran road construction worker found an easy way to work in almost impossible conditions.
A professional makes a grueling job look amazingly simple, and John Anthony has done that for a long time. "Eleven years," says John, who works in the most extreme weather conditions for a road construction company.
Working in what many people would call unbearable, even brutal conditions, the worst of two worlds where the outside temperature often hits a 100º and the pavement he stands gets even hotter. "I don't know how he does it, but he's good because I don't think I could do it," says Kacrina Diamond as she sits in line on GA Highway 133 between Albany and Doerun.
"No problem," says John, about working in the heat. But how can it be no problem? Experience gains years ago taught him how to survive the sometimes deadly heat. "I've been working in the sun a long time, on the farm. So, it really doesn't bother me. Hot like this is now, it's hot on the farm. It doesn't bother me. I just got use to it," says John, who harvested summer vegetables when he was a kid.
"I can't imagine how he could get use to it," says Jim Saunders, as he waits for safe passage as construction equipment tie up one of the two highway's lanes.
The coping skills John learned during his youth still help him as a road construction worker, a real, honest-to-goodness tough guy who beats the heat effortlessly. John finds timing is everything. "Come out early in the morning time. Stay out in it and the body will be used to it. They won't be a problem," says John.
The problem comes when someone sits in air conditioned comfort and immediately goes outside. How hot does it get? John wore a thermometer during part of his afternoon shift. Within five minutes, the air temperature reached 98º.
While the pavement, about six feet below, reached 128º, prompting John to reveal another secret. He keeps his feet moving to keep them cooler.
Some people question if this summer is hotter than other ones. "All the same to me," says John. And he has 11 summers worth of real-heat experience.
John has met some really nice people out on his hot job. Some of them will give him a nice, cold drink as they drive by. He usually drinks about two soft drinks a day, plus water along and along to stay hydrated, and where he puts his mind over the heat. "Once you get use to it, it won't bother you," says John as he moves off the road for cars and trucks to pass.
John withstands the intense heat that would stop most people, but doesn't even slow him down. His working conditions can feel even hotter, especially after a rain when the sun comes back out and the humidity stays unbearably high.