The guardian of Squirrel Road: The legend of Construction Barrel Man

Underneath Oakland University’s verdant campus lies a veritable treasure trove of unsolved mysteries: The cold war bomb shelter design of Varner Hall; the vanishing trees of Pioneer Drive; what was making that sewer-y smell in Vandenberg Hall. But nothing captures the imagination of a student body like the strange tale of Construction Barrel Man.

Construction Barrel Man is a phenomenon seldom seen by human eyes. The towering figure, made almost entirely of construction barrels has been spotted wherever road work is ongoing, something Michigan has had a healthy supply of.

In recent days, the infamous beast was spotted by students driving on southbound Squirrel Road, apparently overlooking traffic.

For Michigan residents who claim to have spotted Construction Barrel Man, questions abound: What is Construction Barrel Man? An escaped secret government project? A gentle giant of Michigan’s naturally occurring motorways? Or is it all an elaborate fraud?

His face, as evidenced in these photographs, is a mask of inhuman rage. What could have so angered the god of traffic delays? Or does his expression belie a patronly feeling of love towards commuters? Some theorists suggest that Construction Barrel Man appears when road work is dangerous to ensure motorists safe passage.

The Construction Barrel Man faithful insist that he watches over us, as a protector.

“One time, CBM spoke to me,” Antoine Lumbago, a survivor of an encounter with the great orange monster, says. “I saw him on the side of the road. Just staring into the distance. I got out of my car and pleaded with him ‘What is it? What do you want from me?’ He wouldn’t look down at me. He just replied with this, ‘Hoooooooonk. Hoooooonk.’ And that’s when I knew… that’s when I knew everything was gonna be alright.”

Officially, Construction Barrel Man’s existence has been denied by the Michigan department of transportation. My calls and emails asking, “Why did you create Construction Barrel Man?” and “Do you realize the wrath you’ve brought upon us?” went unaswered.

And yet, countless stories of encounters with the plastic colossus continue to flow in.

“Stories circulate about the origin of Construction Barrel Man,” says Dr. Augustus Lamington, a paranormal research historian, which he assured me was a real thing.

According to Lamington, some say scientists were attempting to combine the DNA of a roadworker with an orange barrel, when the experiment went awry and the subject escaped. Others say he evolved from a regular orange barrel, tired of seeing motorists callously knock over the his caution-colored ilk.

Followers of Construction Barrel Man say that he is drawn to areas with heavy patches of road work. Theorists suggest that OU’s recent spate of ongoing repairs has pulled Construction Barrel Man to campus.

It is impossible to discount his ominous message scrawled on a sign nearby, “ROAD OPEN: Thank you for your patience.” And yet in his right hand, Construction Barrel Man holds a “SLOW” caution sign.

What could this message mean? Some students have suggested that this is a warning not to tamper in the domain of things paved and poured, lest we fall into disrepair ourselves.

And what of his “SLOW” sign? Is it a weapon? A walking stick? Or another warning?

“He’s watching us, always,” student and CBM Watcher Club member Dolores Sisyphus says. “He’s out there, looking at how people treat the roads and treat each other. He’ll come and set things right, then disappear into the aether.”

Indeed, costruction Barrel Man has achieved folk hero status in some areas. And yet, some naysayers claim that Construction Barrel Man is nothing more than a joke, compiled by a prankster.

Well, screw those people. It’s a Bigfoot.

For now, the incredible Construction Barrel Man has left the OU area. One day he may reveal himself to the world, and no longer exist in the realm of mystery and maybe.

And distract traffic.