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July 24, 2007

Filling a Hole

Filed under: Bill Bickel, CIDU, comic strips, comics, humor, Monty — Cidu Bill @ 12:04 am


Several people asked me about this Monty strip, and I explained it thus: The reason he’s given 45 minutes to fill the hole is that he’s not supposed to fill it with asphalt: That’s why he has all those doughnuts, to help him drink a lot of coffee.

Whereupon everybody e-mailed me to tell me I was wrong:

Jenn Murphy: I think you might be overthinking that Monty strip. I immediately thought it was a joke on how long it seems to take road crews to get work done.

Filling in a pothole should just take a few minutes, but the whole team has to stand around and “study” the problem, then they have to take a break; they could really be holding up traffic for hours. Each member of the crew has a specific skill, as well, so the whole crew may be needed for the job.

In reality, the new guy should have no trouble filling the pothole within 45 minutes by himself, but, as part of the team, he has to do all the “procedures,” like eating those doughnuts, which makes that time a real challenge for one man.

Scott Davidson: I’ve never worked on a road crew, but I did work as a mail carrier once, as a summer sub, and I got yelled at for delivering the mail too quickly. I suspect Monty’s challenge is goofing off enough to make a five minute job last forty five.


  1. I’m not sure if the line “He’s still got another doughnut!” Is in support of him making it or not. My most likely interpretation of the scenario is that the filling in of a pothole requires all the “procedures” that normal people wouldn’t think of, so that the job is actually very long and difficult (like Jenn said). Therefore, he has to finish another doughnut, and it’s looking like he can’t.

    The other interpretation is that the “He can’t do it” is that he’s going to finish the doughnuts and coffee too quickly, and not be able to stretch the job out to 45, but he has another doughnut, which should be good for another 5 minutes, so he has a chance.

    Depends on whether the crew views itself as hardworking or lazy. Is the challenge to get all the required time-wasting activities done in 45 minutes, much faster than usual, or is the challenge to find enough ways to goof off to make the job last that long.

    Regarding summer mail carriers – My dad worked summers for the USPS when he was in college, mostly sorting mail. One summer he got a route (a walking route), and the first day, as he was going out, he was very strongly warned not to show up back at the P.O. until 4PM. He was done by noon. He says he spent the summer learning to walk slow and take breaks, or to find places to hide where people who knew he was supposed to be at work wouldn’t find him (movie theaters, swimming pools, bars, etc).

    Comment by David Skaar — July 24, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

  2. Any time you drive past a road crew, you will see 7 guys leaning on their shovels/equipment watching, and one (if you are lucky) actually working.

    I believe that this is a play on that perception – he’s having to do the loafing of 8 people, and still get the hole filled.

    Comment by src — July 24, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

  3. This is a true story.

    I remember when I was in college (a major technological institution in the greater Boston area) and got a summer job working for the university’s phyisical plant office. Every day I would start by getting a list of 6 jobs to be completed during the day at a variety of locations across the campus.

    I was instructed by the permanent workers (union leaders) to ensure that each job took at least one hour, and that two should take 1.5 hours. I was also entitled to two 30 minute paid breaks, one before and one after lunch. Thus the six jobs would take me precisely eight hours.

    Add to this fact that the union rules were that all jobs were to be completed by two workers (for “safety” reasons), so each job really took between two and three man-hours.

    The job? Changing light bulbs.

    Comment by Bill — July 25, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

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