The Virginia Department of Transportation said trucks that should have been filled with ice-melting rock salt accidentally dumped billions of peppercorns onto state roads and highways this morning, leading to a string of accidents on black ice and reported increase in commuter-related coughing and sniffling.
“While we are currently investigating this matter, it appears that one of our VDOT employees reached for the salt, but accidentally grabbed the pepper,” said VDOT spokesman Jeff Caldwell, wiping tears from his reddened, itchy eyes. “As you all know, it is very difficult to tell the two tubs of road condiments apart sometimes.”
“Particularly so early in the morning,” he added.
While VDOT is working to clean up its 57,867-mile system of roadways, morning travelers said they are happy to have made it to their destinations today without major incident.
“I was coming into work on [Interstate] 64 when I saw this orange truck dumping what looked like dirt all over the road, and then it realized it was a hock, a hack, a hough hough, hough,” said morning commuter Vic Pyle Jr., who said he failed in attempts to stop the application of crushed pepper by shouting “Enough,” “When,” and “That’s good.”
Though the pepper clean-up could cost an estimated $1.6 million, VDOT’s Caldwell said, he noted the organization has not made an error this large since the 1952 decision to purchase only two snow plows for the entire state.