Driving by a park in a nearby city the other day, I began feeling the uncomfortable effects of two lunchtime burritos, accompanied by a generous helping of spicy fries. I reluctantly stopped to use the park’s bathroom facilities, when my digestive system said, “Run man – for the love of God, run.” Sorry, no pun intended. I won’t get into my experience now, but if you want to; read my recent story called, “Little House of Horrors.” It says it all.
After my interesting adventure in the restroom, I decided to spend a few minutes touring the lovely green oasis, which sat amidst a sea of concrete. Have any of you seen the signs that they put at the entrance to almost every public park? Boldly written at the top of this parks sign, in slightly larger letters was the word “NO,” followed below by the words: smoking, eating or drinking, pets, alcoholic beverages, food, skate boarding, motorized vehicles, camping, fires, boisterous behavior, and cursing. At the bottom of the sign, also in bold letters was, “Please enjoy yourselves.”
Enjoy myself? Doing what? Pretending I’m a statue, and having massive flocks of pigeons, poop all over me? I’m surprised the sign didn’t include the words, “No ingesting of massive quantities of drugs, no huffing of glue, white-out, or gasoline, and no selling distributing or otherwise facilitating the use of drugs. Hey, maybe I can ask the crack-head passed out by the park bench with all the discarded needles, if he wants to party.
It just seems we have too many signs, rules and regulations, and it takes all the fun out of life. I took a few minutes, walked into the park, and noticed other prominent signs. They included: stay off the grass, do not pick the flowers, and please, do not feed the geese. Feed the Geese? That’s not likely. Chances are, if I’m not stepping in enormous mounds of geese droppings, I’ll be fending off those huge, swift, vicious winged devils, with a large stick.
I was thinking to myself, as I strolled along gravel-covered paths, avoided discarded beer bottles and cans, stepped over used hypodermic needles, and hid until some geese passed by, that maybe I should put up my own signs in the park. They would be signs that might actually be of use to people. How about something like, “Beware, aggressive panhandler harassing people around next corner?” What do you think of, “Danger, mugger with club, hidden behind third oak tree on the left?” The park, definitely needed a few, “No Cursing” signs. Before, finishing my trek through nature , I was accosted by a guy behind the tennis courts with a gun, who said, “Give me your #@&!*%$ wallet.” I guess he must have missed the first sign!
My trip to the park, got me thinking about all the signs we see in a typical day. Yesterday, in a local diner, I saw a sign in the bathroom that said, “Employees must wash their hands.” Do you really think the employees all read the sign, say, “Wow, I almost forgot,” then meticulously and thoroughly wash their hands? Heaven forbid I should end up with the bubonic plague nestled between my two, over easy eggs, and those neatly cut pieces of whole wheat toast.
I’ve come to realize, either people don’t read signs, or they choose to ignore them. I know for a fact that half the people on roads, streets or highways, ignore most traffic signs. I sometimes wonder why they even put up speed limit signs. Maybe they should have signs that say, “Suggested speed fifty-five, but it’s okay to break the sound barrier.”
People, often don’t even think about their own signs! The other day, a car passed me doing at least a hundred mph. Prominently displayed on the rear window was a sign saying, “Baby on Board.” My first thoughts were, “I hope, the poor little baby is strapped into a NASA designed car seat, wearing the latest in NFL, protective head-gear, and encased in thick and sturdy layers of Kevlar – I have a feeling it’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride.”
To be fair; I think most people obey those signs in front of schools that say, “Speed limit 25 mph – 15 mph when light is flashing.” Do you know how hard it is to go 15 mph? Have you ever finally made it through a school zone, and had to hit a garage for a new set of brakes? How many of you, have ever seen a “School Zone” sign, drove for at least two miles, and then saw an “End of School Zone” sign, but never did see a school, or any students?
I almost got a ticket once, in a school zone, for doing 18 mph when the light was flashing. I was heading home with my wife, after a visit with her mother, when our car broke down near an elementary school. With my only options being, calling my mother-in-law to retrieve us, or making a mad dash for home, I chose the latter. As my wife steered, I began pushing the car, built up some serious momentum, and was practically sprinting to get over the next rise, when I heard sirens behind me. Of course, my wife kept going for another quarter-mile before she realized what had happened. The officer had a big smile on his face, when he asked for my license, registration, and the brand of sneakers I was wearing. I guess he figured, if a slightly overweight, middle-aged man, can hit such unbelievable speeds in those shoes, imagine what his teenage son will do on the track team. I got off with a warning, after two other cops showed, up, took some group pictures as souvenirs, had a few good laughs, and swapped some mother-in-law stories.
There are so many signs that people ignore. How many of you have witnessed, a shiny black Mercedes, or some other expensive vehicle, zoom into a handicapped spot, and then watched, as a man in a tailored business suit, glanced at his Rolex watch, and then sprinted into the store? I saw a sign the other day that said, “Please don’t litter – $300 fine.” Of course, the area surrounding the sign was completely covered in discarded aluminum cans, broken bottles, and fast food bags and wrappers.
Have you ever wondered why they don’t make signs that really make our lives better and safer, and that people won’t ignore? Here are a few signs, I’m pretty sure, people would study closely. They may include: “Danger – woman ahead, who just caught her loser boyfriend, cheating,” “Beware – boss is on a rampage, and looking for a scapegoat for the Morris account,” or “Warning – you forgot your anniversary again, and wife is just inside the front door with a baseball bat.” On that last one; I wouldn’t even need the whole sign. I’m pretty sharp when I’m in trouble. Just put, “Anniversary?” Oh, oh – does anybody have a calendar handy?