There is no iPod in sight, no satellite radio streaming from a parked car, not even the slightest staccato from the construction machinery hammering nearby.
Yet Carry Thomas is moving to the rhythm.
The 43-year-old Kamloops woman is standing in the intersection at Fourth Avenue and Battle Street during a busy noon hour, with traffic coming at her from four directions.
And she is smiling, as she always does, because this is exactly where she wants to be.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years and I’ve been lovin’ it every day,” said Thomas, a veteran flagger for Safety First Inc.
Anyone who has driven through that intersection in the last month or so has surely noticed her. In any other setting, Thomas’ petite frame might get lost in the crowd, but not here, not with that big orange hard hat, that bright yellow shirt, the reflective bands around her wrists and pant legs.
And certainly not with the way she moves.
“It’s not really a dance,” said Thomas, “People say it’s a dance, but it’s just the way I flag.”
Flag people have their own style, she said, and hers just happens to be animated.
When Thomas directs vehicles through a construction zone, her whole body moves in a continuous, fluid motion. Shoulders roll, hips sway, arms gently sweep the air — like a music conductor who feels every note from the orchestra. Except her orchestra is made up of cars and trucks.
Even the pedestrians are pulled into the playful action; for example, a woman crossing the street will get the grand gesture of a Shakespearean bow and a “my lady,” as she is directed across. A man will get an equally courteous “There you go, my dear,” as he is safely guided to the other side.
“The way I look at it, if I can put a smile on your face and if I can change your attitude within one minute of going through my site, it carries on,” said Thomas.
“If I can put a smile on your face, you’ve made my day.”
The feeling is mutual. Even during a busy Monday lunch hour with temperatures upwards of 30 C, everyone who passes through Thomas’s intersection smiles back at her. How could one not?
“They look for me now,” said Thomas, who has gained quite the fan base since moving to Kamloops this year from Salmon Arm.
In fact, if she gets called to another construction zone, even for a day, people at the downtown site miss her. And it’s no wonder why.
“I love running intersections,” said Thomas.
“I just like to put a smile on people’s faces because, you know, life is just so hard on people these days, and yet life is too short to be grumpy.”