Today their orange jump suits emerge from the early morning fog along I-26 just north of Orangeburg.
They are of all shapes and sizes but nearly all are black. Their blackness doesn't surprise me after all this is Orangeburg County. The Girls are the modern day chain gang, the Cool Hand Lukes of 2010, without the chains or the oppressive boss and shaking the bush.
But walking the shoulders of the interstate with orange plastic garbage bags and trash wands is not very glamorous and though they could escape with ease it would be pointless.
Their crimes range from drugs to shop lifting, car theft and prostitution.
I am not sure when I first tapped my horn as I passed by, but I remember fearing they would feel it was a slight or insult.
But it was my way of acknowledging them. To say I see you and your life is not invisible to me. I would like to know your story, about your life and your family and your dreams.
The first time they just looked my way but now 100 times later they raise their trash wands or wave outright. In my rear view mirror I often see smiles and idle chat as I pass by at better than 70 miles an hour.
I imagine being on a road crew is much like having your car break on the side of the road. Everyone is passing you by and your going nowhere and no one seams to notice.
But I notice, I notice these are people too and they have hopes and dreams but for now life is skipping by, just out of reach.
Stuck on the side of the interstate of life.