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T – The Traffic Sign

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

T – Traffic Signs

This is the twentieth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Signs, they are everywhere. There are many different signs, in fact it is overwhelming the amount of signs one is required to read and observe on a daily basis.  And for the most part, people do not pay attention to signs. And this can be annoying, especially when one is reading the signs, following the instructions and everyone else is simply ignoring them. So, why do people bother to put up signs?

We had a welcome mat on our front door step that read “Go away – a big ass fragile dog lives here.” That doesn’t seemed to have deterred anyone. I think the thing that has helped us most, is the doorbell that was “fixed” by someone who will not be named, and now it doesn’t work.  So we never know when anyone is at the front door.  Or maybe it is Mikey (the Great Dane) staring them down through the front window who discourages all our potential visitors. Either way, as long as the magazine salespeople, the boys riding bikes in long-sleeved shirts with ties and the leaflet handing out people stay away, it works for me.

Why am I bringing up the subjects of traffic signs?   Well, for several reasons.  First, because I am again behind on my posts, I need something to write about that starts with the letter “T” and because of something occurring in our neighborhood that has irritated me to no end, as it has you. Stick with me on this one, there are lessons to be learned here.

When we first moved into our neighborhood, which was built back in the 70s, it was a quiet little area. Many of the houses were still owned by the initial owners, many of them elderly. But the times are changing. The former owners have sold their houses, moved on, and we have had an influx of young families with small children move into the houses down the street.

The children for some reason find the middle of the street the most enjoyable place to play. The houses where these children reside are at a T-intersection where everyone in our particular part of the neighborhood has to drive. There is no way to avoid this spot in the neighborhood, and there is a great deal of traffic that comes through this little intersection.

In order to avoid any mishaps, it seems to me the most prudent thing these parents of the small children could do, is not have them play in the street, and teach them street safety. But that is not what has happened at all. Instead, they have put up a little green plastic traffic sign that says “Slow children playing”.  Now if I was one of the children, and I could read, I think I would be quite offended that my parents were referring to me as “Slow”. Actually I realize now after I loaded the photo, the sign actually says “Caution”, and this whole time I thought it said  “Slow Children Playing”.  See how people don’t take time to read the signs properly.  But I digress, again.

Anyway, they haven’t put the sign to the side of the road, or on one of the sidewalks at the T-intersection – they have put this sign smack-dab in the middle of the street. To get around this sign you either have to veer to the left, or to the right. But if you veer to the right you come very close to hitting their enormous SUVs parked on the side of the road. If you veer to the left, you have to wait for any traffic coming the other way to go past.

And the children are still flying out into the street on their bikes without looking. I almost got hit the other day by a careening, out of control little girl on a pink bicycle (and it was I who received the dirty look from the child’s mother).

Here’s the thing that gets me the most about this. The mothers of these little children sit in a gaggle on the curb and chat away all day long.  Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, they are there. Are they paying attention to their children, making sure they stay off the street?  No.  All their responsibility to the ensuring the safety of their children has been shifted to us, because of that little green sign.  Of course, we know there are children playing in that area, we know to go slowly through that part of the neighborhood, we don’t need a little sign to remind us.

How does any of this apply to the A-Z Survival Guide to Life? There are several lessons to be learned here.

People don’t pay attention to signs – If you don’t want someone to do something – just tell them. An example of this would be the signs we have up in our clinic – No Cellphones. I wish I could recapture all the time I have waited for parents to get off their cell phones so we could proceed with their child’s visit. A most effective way, I have discovered, to deal with this is to very kindly and while smiling say “Finish your conversation, I will go on to the next patient and come back.”  It’s kind of passive-aggressive, but it seems to work in convincing them to end their phone conversations quickly.

Putting up a sign does not minimize one’s responsibility or accountability – As a parent, or a dog owner or whatever it is you are responsible for, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of the person, the pet, or the item – and everyone else will follow suit (for the most part).

If you put up a sign, it will annoy someone – Be sure you are willing to face the repercussions.  A fine example of this, is the new game of attempting to “accidentally” run this little green sign at the T-intersection over. From what I can tell, the sign is made out of some type of indestructible material created by NASA and cannot be destroyed.


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