Sunday, September 7, 2008

Road Signs

I really like road signs. They’re supposed to be official government endorsed information devices, but sometimes I think they’re too serious for their own good. Weird and ironic phrases slip through and the warnings can be ridiculous.
Some of them are unintentionally hilarious because they try so hard to be grave. I find it amazing.

I can compare it to a particularly strange situation in high school with my vice principal. It was the Spring of my senior year, and I was hanging out in the cafeteria while a bunch of kids were screwing around with a vending machine.

Eventually everyone realized that the pranksters had managed to put something into the device, and were watching the food rotate and laughing hysterically. Cookies, soda, chips, and a purple glittery dildo circled in the machine. Eventually, the vice principal showed up, and not being able to pin down the culprit, angrily yelled at all of us (while clutching the sparkly sex toy in his fist). “That's why there is no student commons. Because there are dildos in the vending machines!” He chucked the phallus into the trashcan and stomped out of the cafeteria.

It made the entire situation ten times better. He was so stern, and was ready to threaten us with anything to make everyone behave.

I find road signs that way. They try to be so serious, and completely miss the levity of the situation. In Badlands National Park in South Dakota we passed a simple sign that said, “WARNING: PLAGUE IN PRAIRIE DOG COLONIES”.

What? But it was for real. Others I’ve seen in the last few weeks include depictions of stick figures running away from tsunamis, being flung from their bikes, getting gored by buffalo, falling into geysers, and having toll gates smashed on their heads.

I also like unusual animal crossings (like Elk, Moose, Bison, etc.) and runaway truck ramps/roads (particularly if there’s a runaway truck on it). Something about all these signs amuses me to no end. They transcend every language, and their imagery often translates something very different: RUN FROM HUGE WAVES, DANCE WITH BUFFALO, and PARK BIKE IN RUT FOR FUN RIDE!

Some day my friends will all be sitting at home with their antiques, coin collections, and knitting, but I will still be driving around, looking for strange signs to photograph.

1 comment:

Butch Boo said...

Great signs!

Signs annoy me though- just way too many of them every where in London- don't do this, do that, you will be prosecuted if you do this, etc etc



Yours are funny though