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The Happy Flagman: Enthusiastic traffic flagger greets drivers in Putnam construction zone

Traffic flagger Leon Brock gives drivers the peace sign as they head through a construction zone in Putnam County. (WCHS)

Roadwork and construction can mess with any commute, but drivers say one worker in Putnam County is helping ease some of that tension.

Leon Brock, a traffic flagger for the Nitro-St. Albans Interstate 64 improvement project, always seems to have a smile on his face, and people have taken notice.

As drivers pass by, they repeatedly honk their horns as the smiling and waving flagger greets them.

“They be like, ‘Leon, it’s not even 7 o’clock yet.’ I say, ‘I can‘t help it.’ People just showing respect, just laughing, waving and blowing horn. I can’t tell them to stop,” Brock said.

Brock said the key is “you just got to have a good attitude, a positive attitude – sit out at work and keep everybody safe, keep your job and no accidents.”

Commuters have more than just given him a passing glance.

“I don’t care what time you go through there – morning, noon or night,” Whitney Brown said. “He’s out there waving and smiling and dancing. If you go by him and you’re in bad mood, you won’t leave there in a bad mood.”

Brown said after you drive by him daily and see Brock doing his enthusiastic greeting of drivers, you realize “he wasn’t out there trying to impress anybody. That’s just him. He’s contagious.”

“He just makes people’s day. He’s a really nice guy,” she said.

Brock said he “loves it” and has received expressions of appreciation from drivers, including a coin that says “you make me smile” and letters addressed to the “Happy Flagman” with a God bless you greeting.

Brown said the happiness that Brock shares each day is needed at a time when there is so much curtness, rudeness and everyone is afraid of each other because of the pandemic.

“He just makes you feel like that just temporarily goes away,” Brown said.

For this Happy Flagman, the motivation is simple.

“All you have to do is be nice to everybody, and people will start being nice to you. Sometimes, you make them laugh and smile - they slow down. Our job is done – get them safely to wherever they have to go to and that’s a good day,” Brock said with a chuckle.