Road trips: Reading signs of the times
Ah, summertime. Picnics, water slides, iced tea on the deck … and road trips. Even if I’m not driving cross-country, it seems I’m in my car a lot more during these summer months, heading to the mountains or just around town.
In addition to the beautiful scenery — as well as the heartbreaking devastation of our forests due to beetle kill — I’ve noticed a number of interesting, funny, and just plain entertaining signs.
For example, right here on Kipling Street, I’ve found some choice signs for businesses, such as “Lube & Latte.” Further south, these signs are stacked together: “Tattoo,” “Thai Café,” and “Liquor.” A probably necessary combination, with a spicy kick. One of my family’s all-time favorites is “TV, VCR, & Shoe Repair.” Makes us wonder what kind of tools work for all three.
Billboards often make my list, too. One that never fails to amuse me is offering legal services: “People make mistakes. We can help.”
Some are intriguing, such as the series that started with a plain statement: “Stop Being So Clingy” and ended with a semi truck bed illustration carrying this slogan, encouraging drivers to give trucks more room on the highways.
And speaking of highways, some road signs are actually pretty humorous. Heading to the mountains recently, I saw an alert that read: “Watch for falling rocks and wildlife.” I’m still on the lookout for that falling wildlife.
Even signs without words can bring a chuckle, such as the graphic of a car hanging nose down off an embankment pointing to some waves below. In a park, I saw an illustration of a tree breaking (a big tree) and a person running away from it. Sure had me looking around!
Churches often offer witty messages on their sign boards. One along Highway 93 read: “What happens here, leaves here.” Another said: “Worship is a gift from God. Some assembly required.” And yet another promised: “Non-surgical faith lifts available Sundays.” At the risk of sounding clichéd, I’d say these message writers had some divine inspiration.
As I was collecting these funnies, my friends jumped in with some of their picks, such as the “Outhouse Restaurant,” the “Gunbarrel Vet Clinic,” and a funeral parlor called “Good Grief, Inc.”
Embarrassing signs often find their way to Facebook, such as this one outside a community education center: “Our teachers make the differance.” Ouch.
Another making the rounds on social media is a “No Soliciting” sign tacked to the front of a house: “We are too broke to buy anything. We already have Jesus. We don’t need a new vacuum. Seriously, unless you are selling Thin Mints, please go away!” Food for thought…
Some of the very best, though, are the signs that plain folks like you and me create for our needs. Along a stretch of highway in Arizona, flashy jewelry and craft stores advertise their handmade wares. On the side of the road amidst these signs sits a Native American with a tray of his work and the hood of a car propped up and painted to say: “Buy direct.”
What are some of your favorites?
Signing off for now…
Andrea Doray is a writer who reports on both humor and pathos in everyday language at wordwatching.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.