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Whittling Away: Signs

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By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

As I slide down the slippery slope of “seniordumb,” I have noticed that as my physical activity level gradually decreases, my powers of observation are increasing. 

It may be the approach of my second childhood, which I am looking forward to.

I’m once again finding little things attract my attention more and more. I spent a very pleasant time one winter morning recently watching a chickadee. I admired his skill and hard work pulling seeds through the wire webbing on the hanging feeder until my canine friend Telly got done investigating the possibilities presented by a chipmunk’s disappearance into a drain pipe. 

Telly is interested in the little things also and often we have nice discussions about our observations. He doesn’t contribute much verbally but he’s a very good listener.

As we continued our morning stroll, Telly pointed out to me the number of highway signs in our area by lifting his leg on every one we passed. He quickly became dehydrated and we returned home. 

Later in the day, we boarded Casper the Friendly Kia and motored off on our appointed morning rounds. On the mile-and-a-half run into town, we counted 28 highway signs of one form or another. They told us how fast to go, when to stop, curves to watch out for, what number road we were on, which town we were entering — so much advice in so little space. Some sign poles had two or three signs on them.

Driving through town and still in sign mode, I noticed how many signs I’d been driving past for years without paying any conscious attention to them. Some signs were informative, but most were abrupt and rude. Maybe I’d discovered why our society seems to be less civil than in years past — Keep Out, No Trespassing, Posted—No Hunting or Fishing, or any other human activity allowed, No Parking At Any Time, Violators Will Be Towed Away at Owner’s Expense. The hair on the back of my neck started to rise — I don’t like being told what to do, ask me nicely and I can be talked into anything but don’t tell me what to do. 

I pulled Casper into a No Parking Zone and parked! We sat there for couple of minutes and kind of enjoyed being violators. Then, having our fill of naughtiness and hearing the approach of a vehicle that we were sure was a tow truck, we left. 

We could have been prevented from breaking the law if the sign had just been worded, Please Don’t Park Here — such a simple thing but it would have made a difference. 

Some signs started off nicely — Welcome to Our Park, Please Help to Keep It Clean — polite and reasonable, but then came No Dogs, Skateboards, Bicycles, Picnics, Fires or Walking on the Grass Allowed.  Might as well go walk in the woods, except most of them are posted. 

Having spent the morning in hard observation, Telly agreed we should go home for a snack. Our only problem was the large dump truck in front of us had a bright orange sign on the back that said, “Construction Vehicle — Do Not Follow.”

Thought for the week — Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain. And most do.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at Whittle12124@yahoo.com.

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