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The Asphalt Gypsies
   by Claude Diamond   

  (The romantic story of one man's driveway in small town America!)

  Hey Dad-Hey Dad !!! there are some more people outside looking at the driveway again. My 7 & 11 year olds were bursting into my home office downstairs all excited about the latest uninvited visitors to our home.

  My new Colorado mountain home (yes, we lease purchased it first) had become a tourist site for both the locals and visitors in my newly adopted mountain town. Population 525, not counting Moose and Squirrels. It seemed that everyday strangers, neighbors, tourists and all sorts of folks were coming by my home. They'd come by car and slow down just long enough to glance (in New York we always called this rubber necking)! Others even parked their cars and got out of their vehicles, took out the baby carriages and just strolled. Some came by mountain bike, others were walking, jogging, roller blading or hikingby. What could be causing so much commotion, so much excitement?

  Answer: My new blacktop paved driveway! (Hey, this is a real small town!)

  Now to the uninitiated this might seem crazy, but in small town America or as I like to call it "The Other America", this is normal. Things are slower here; people talk about the weather, lost dogs, fishing and "how about those Broncos?" On a quiet weekend, what could be better than looking at the Diamond's new driveway?

  We moved to this town located deep in the western slope of the Continental Divide 9200 feet above sea level. Things are quite different here compared to NYC, Hopatcong, New Jersey or Sunny San Diego, California. They are a great deal different. Front doors of homes and cars stay unlocked, it's rude not to say howdy to everyone you walk past and you are obligated to wave to any stranger you drive by. People are friendly and open which takes some getting used to!

  It all began one day when I had met this burly fellow in the Post Office; he had an Oklahoma accent as thick as molasses. We started chit chatting about the weather and other stuff while waiting in line. The weather changes every five minutes up here so everyone is always discussing it, or as Mark Twain said "complaining why someone doesn't do something about it!"

  My new acquaintance Robert, explained that he was the famous "Asphalt Gypsy".He said that he and his kin folks hailed from the town of Buffalo, Oklahoma,which was just the best place on earth. Robert told me the story of how he was proud to be the third generation in his family of Asphalt Gypsies and that his son would be the fourth Gypsy in this noble profession. They would roam the Countryside looking for driveways, parking lots, just about anything that needed asphalt. His Grandfather started the business during The Depression in the 30's when work was not readily available; so Gramps figured he had better create his own employment. Robert said that his Dad and Gramps took him on the road when he was 10 years old for 8 or 9 months a year just driving all over the US looking for paving work. Now he proudly exclaimed that his son was going to carry on the noble skill of laying down asphalt for the family, but he would only let him work during the summers & holidays since he wanted his son to finish his schooling first.

  I casually mentioned to Robert that I had this huge circular dirt driveway and that if he had the time would he like to come by and give me a price. Well quicker than you can say "where's the bar-B-que?" Robert was following me in this white Ford Pickup to my home. After the requisite amount of dickering/horse trading on the cost we shook hands and nothing further needed to be discussed. I felt that Robert was a man of his word. He told me that he and his boys would be over tomorrow morning. The next morning around 6:00,the lovely CJ and I were awakened to a rumbling sound reminiscent of a Southern California earthquake. We quickly got dressed only to discover a parade of heavy equipment rolling into our driveway. There were dump trucks loaded with asphalt, two huge 18 wheelers with trailers that had asphaltspreaders, roller machines and mini bulldozers on them. There were 12 men busily unloading all this equipment onto my driveway. They were hard at work moving the equipment and spreading the black substance over our former dirt road. The men were all very thin, heavily tattooed, had few teeth in their mouths and smoked constantly while breathing in the blacktop's toxic fumes.They had a very rough looking edge to them, but worked at a feverish pace and were mostly quite pleasant. I asked Robert where he found such dedicated and hardworking men and he informed me that these guys were the best ex-cons and vagabonds that he ever had put together in his crew! Oh my Gawd-mydriveway had a chain gang working on it !

  After I got over my initial shock I noticed that the work proceeded well and by all estimates they should be done by the late afternoon and Robert and his crew would be off to their next town. Robert's crew finally finished and did a great job for the price. Since it was a weekend I asked Robert if he minded if I paid him with a Diamond Consulting Group business check. He told me that would be fine. Humorously I asked him if he ever got a bad check after doing the work on someone's home or business. He told me of one such incident where the homeowner refused to make good on a rubber check. When he told the"boys" that they wouldn't get paid that night for a hard day's work they went back to the home to speak with Mr.. Bad Check. During the conversation they had unloaded the bulldozer, taken back all the blacktop and used it for another job the next day. Such is the life of an asphalt gypsy.

  The next day something odd began happening. I noticed that an unusual amount of traffic was slowly progressing past my home. My driveway had become a local attraction. The Rugrats observed that some of the neighbors and townies were cruising past my home. It seemed that most of the driveways in town were your basic dirt roads. Our new driveway provided cheap entertainment for the community and by all the attention it appeared to be the ninth wonder of the world. It even attracted a few eccentrics. One summer evening we found a local man intensely inspecting our driveway. He appeared to be measuring the depth of our black top and then he began to jump up and down like he was on a trampoline. This all occurred while the family was eating dinner and watching from the dining room window. We were laughing so hard it hurt; the kind of laugh that is so funny it makes you cry and you hold your gut. We still laugh out loud whenever we reminisce.

  The kids were so impressed with all the attention our driveway was getting that they wanted to set up a roadside business, sell Polaroid pictures and give guided tours. I was impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit, but took them for ice cream instead and hoped the idea would go away. (Where do my kids get these ideas.... Hmmm?) After a while all the excitement and traffic diminished. I can't wait until next summer when we have the lawn sodded. This time they will probably bring tour buses around!Diamond Consulting Group

Diamond Consulting Group
Success, One Person at a Time !
Claude W. Diamond J.D.
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E-MAIL: CDMENTOR@AOL.COM
Website: www.claudediamond.com
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