Signs, signs, everywhere signs

When I was a wee bit younger than I am now, I used to shake my head with sadness or shake my fists in anger — I used to get upset at the sheer volume of signs screwing up our roadsides.
When I was too young to drive, back before seat belts were mandatory and the windows in the back seat could be rolled all the way down, I used to stick out my arm and pretend my hand was a big shovel. When I came to a road sign I didn’t like, I’d dip my fingers down and flip ’em back up — thus digging up said sign.
Some years later, license in pocket, whenever I would tool up M-15 and enter Goodrich Village, I would daydream about midnight commando raids. Raids where those two wooden billboards that sit on the banks of a winding creek are taken out with chain saws.
But that was then, back in my irrational days. Back when I had nothing else to do but get cranky at things which I had no control over. That those billboards ruin the scenic beauty is of no consequence to me. It is not my property, therefore not my problem. My problems are trying to pay my taxes, raising sturdy, honest boys and being a good husband to dear wife Jen.
That said, there are lots o’signs dotting our highways and byways. Nowadays, instead of daydreaming about sign demolition I just count. For example, a six-mile drive west on Oakwood Road, from M-24 in Oxford resulted in a 192 sign count — that’s like 32 signs per mile on a road that is, for the most part, residential, wetlands and farmland. (Of course I did not include any of those green address signs.)
And, since wife Jen calls me ‘the king of cliche,? I say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. It would seem sign making could be a good business investment — if I could weasel my way into a government gig with a nice fat contract. It bears investigating.
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Our signs here in Michigan are, well, boring. We need new signage. Signs that say something. Signs that tug on the heartstrings and signs that can make you smile. Don’t get me wrong, Michigan signs are effective. In construction zones, signs that say, ‘Kill, injure or even get close to one of our workers and the state will open a can of whoop you know what on you,? get right to the point.
But, for the most part our signs are just . . . blah. The most interesting signs we have are those yellow caution ones with the mother duck being followed by her ducklings. I think the most ridiculous sign is the yellow caution one I see in Davisburg — the one with the little farmer (complete with 10-gallon straw hat) sitting up on his tractor. How many farmers these days (or ever) wear 10-gallon straw hats?
While driving in Pennsylvania, a construction-zone sign caught Jen’s and my attention. It was brown and written in childlike scrawl were these words in white: Please drive safely, my mommy works here.
After typing that I have changed my mind, Michigan doesn’t need any sentimental crap on signage — it’s sounds too whimpy. Maybe we should stick to, to the point verbiage: Break a worker’s arm and Guido will break yours.
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Jen sent me an e-mail with pictures of signs found north of the border. She typed in the subject: Why Canada is Great.
* A sign in North Vancouver states: Attention Dog Guardians: Pick up after your dogs. Thank you. Attention Dogs: Grrrr, bark, woof. Good dog.
* A billboard for a Saskatoon restaurant shows a scenic picture of a majestic moose near shimmering water with these words: There’s plenty of room for all God’s creatures — right next to the mashed potatoes.
* A sign in a Canadian drinking establishment: Do not drop cigarette ends on the floor as they burn the hands and knees of customers when they leave.
* Same bar, different sign: NOTICE — Public Bar. Our public bar is presently not open because it is closed. Manager.
* At a self-serve gas station the cost for a liter of regular was: Arm; for Plus: Leg and for Premium: First Born.
* And, finally out by a beach somewhere there’s a big yellow sign with big black letters. CAUTION: This sign has SHARP EDGES. Do Not touch the edge of this sign — also, the bridge is out ahead.
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