Municipal power

I heard the most wonderful story today, from a colleague who works for a software company that helps optimize work flow.

He was telling us about this one time his company had developed a computer program to help a municipal power utility find the best route for its maintenance trucks. The general idea is that when a work crew goes out on the job, repairing and upgrading things around the city, choosing the optimal route through heavy traffic can save hours — and time is money.

One day he was showing the route his company’s software had calculated to the client’s road crew, when the foreman pointed at the screen and asked “Why does it say to turn left here? It’s a lot faster if we go right.”

He was surprised by the question. “You can’t go that way — it’s a one way street.”

He was even more surprised when they all started laughing. “Why is that funny?” he asked.

“You don’t get it,” the foreman explained, still laughing. “We’re the guys with the orange cones.”

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