Stories of a World Gone Mad

'Signs, signs, everywhere there's a blasted sign'

Commentary

Barry Currin
Posted 11/30/18

 Way back in 1971, the Canadian group Five Man Electrical Band released a song called “Signs.”The lyrics describe several instances where signs are an annoyance and a distraction.I get this …

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Stories of a World Gone Mad

'Signs, signs, everywhere there's a blasted sign'

Commentary

Posted

 Way back in 1971, the Canadian group Five Man Electrical Band released a song called “Signs.”

The lyrics describe several instances where signs are an annoyance and a distraction.

I get this song stuck in my head a lot when I’m driving down the interstate. Yesterday, Kim and I had to go to Nashville on business, and for some reason, the signs started yelling at me louder than usual from the get-go.

It started with those overhead warning signs the transportation department installed a few years ago.

I originally assumed these signs would be used to inform motorists of upcoming hazards or delays. And sometimes, they do.

But usually, they either have some kind of somewhat humorous expression, or they tell us how many traffic fatalities we have suffered this year compared to last year.

I guess it depends on what kind of mood Matilda over at the transportation department is in when she sits down in front of the keyboard.

I have to give her credit for her zinger yesterday. When I first saw it, I chuckled out loud.

It said, “Your car is not a phone booth. Just drive.”

Actually, it had no punctuation. I punctuate because I care about you. I’m not sure what Matilda’s problem is.

I stopped chuckling, however, when I realized I had a 300-plus mile round trip ahead of me and these signs are about every 10 miles.

We probably hadn’t even crossed the county line when we saw the third one, and Kim declared she was tired of it already.

I was, too.

And then I saw it again, and again, and again, infinity.

Oh, Matilda. Throw us a bone and at least put the body count on there every now and again.

I don’t know what the sign could’ve said that wouldn’t have gotten on my nerves after seeing it about three dozen times.

Maybe, “Looking good, Barry. Been working out?”

Even that would’ve probably gotten old. Besides, Matilda doesn’t even know I’m alive.

As you know, the billboards in our fair state are infinite along the interstates. If someone isn’t trying to get me to buy a burger or a lottery ticket, they’re trying to sell me a gun or eternal salvation.

Yes, I dabble in the advertising business; and yes, this sounds hypocritical. But we’ve got plenty of billboards. That’s evident by the number of vacant ones out there.

My favorite sign yesterday, however, was a little temporary one stuck in the ground that I saw three or four times. 

It said, “English ivy kills trees.”

I’m no environmental nut job, but I have hugged a tree or two in my day.

I also know ivy is bad for trees. 

What mystifies me, however, is how on earth someone could despise English ivy with such a passion that they would go to the effort to risk their life by stopping on the shoulder of Interstate 24 and sticking signs in the ground every 50 miles or so.

If they were crusading against kudzu or poison ivy it would be different.

I shouldn’t complain. We took a trip down I-59 a couple of weeks ago, and the desolation and absence of anything remotely commercial was almost eerie.

Maybe I can’t be pleased.

No wonder Matilda doesn’t care anything about me.

———

(About the writer: Barry Currin is founder and president of White Oak Advertising and Public Relations, based in Cleveland. “Stories of a World Gone Mad” is published weekly. Email the writer at currin01@gmail.com.)


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