Besides politics, "obscurity" is alive and well in the highway maintenance departments across the country. I am under the strong conviction that our gasoline taxes aren’t going to road improvements but to screw up the drivers. I believe, and I’m not alone on this, that there is a small committee of "obscurists" that is in sole charge of all road signs: the nemesis of all modern drivers.
Road signs need to be more specific, larger. They need to replace billboards. Who cares if National Bank has lower rates? Watch TV for such information! We need signs that instead of saying, "DIP", they say "Slam on the Brakes NOW or Kiss it Goodbye." The road signs we have now are about the size of a 3 X 5 card (at least they seem so when you’re traveling at speeds of 60+ mph), and they’re just too vague. Sometimes, they’re vague because they’re too specific. How’s that for a conundrum?
Traveling down the road in Pelham, NY, I came to such a "specifically vague" sign. I was travelling at approximately 35 mph in a residential area (don’t rat me out to the cops), and as I approached the intersection I spied one of those obnoxious red-circle-with-a-slash-through-it signs signifying that to attempt a left turn could result in immediate decapitation. But as I came closer, and the light being green so I could blow the intersection, I noticed the word "EXCEPT" written about the size of the Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packages. Under it were listed the times and exceptions to this decapitation threat – and they were written even smaller.
Now, aren’t road signs supposed to facilitate the driver and keep traffic moving in a regular fashion? That’s what I thought. So, I called the highway department and asked the very same questions. The woman on the other end, one Kate Persnickety, just couldn’t stop laughing. The laugh still haunts me.
This sign was so specific that it raises doubts in one’s mind. This can be very dangerous when traveling in large, metal heaps at speeds over 10 mph. I can see it now: a line of cars stretched back to Cleveland because the person couldn’t figure out if one of the exceptions was in effect because he/she feared decapitation far more than the wrath of his/her fellow drivers.
This is not the only example of the obscurists’ work. I’ve seen it all over. I once saw a sign at the bottom of a hill that read "HILL", which I guess is supposed to warn you of a possible speed increase. Well, too late. Due to my ignorance and the absence of a sign at the top of the hill, I was already travelling at the speed of sound, and I had a stop sign, which was conveniently obscured by a tree, to stop for in 10 feet.
This all brings me to my point: we need to do something about these people. We can’t just accept these idiocies anymore. So, I propose we hunt down these obscurists, catch them, and hang them from their signs. If we all put our efforts together, we can show that the American people will not be pushed around. We want hassle-free dental appointments, novels with fewer pages in them, and road signs that make more sense than our elected officials.