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Susan Williamson – Signage and Other Mysterious Communication

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On a recent drive from Williamsburg to Norfolk, I encountered the following electronic highway sign: “Hakuna Matata, Buckle Up “.  To tell me that there are no worries on that stretch of I-64 is in fact stretching it, but it did make me smile. Driving home from Maryland on Highway 301, Labor Day, we encountered another piece of highway wisdom. This one said, “Camp in the State Parks not in the left lane.”

            My husband asked, “What does that mean?”

            I answered, “I think they are telling people not to loaf in the left lane.”

            “Isn’t that a little sarcastic?”

            And indeed it was. I wondered in fact if a certain unnamed publisher I know had gotten control of highway signage.

            But random highway signage is not the only strange communication. Due to a mishap with a delivery truck, our car had to be repaired and we received a Nissan Sentra as a rental. The dashboard would periodically flash, “Front obstruction radar not available.” I was likely to crash into a front obstruction while I was trying to figure out what that meant.

            We used to drive through Fort A.P. Hill on our way from North Carolina to our daughter’s home in Maryland. Signs there warn, “No emergency standing.”  The only time I’ve ever had to do emergency standing was at night when I get a leg cramp, but I don’t think that’s quite what they mean. I assume the location is downrange from rifle or artillery shooting, but wouldn’t the cars be equally in danger? And if your car did quit along that section of highway, what were you to do?

            I also like the signs right as you enter a bridge giving a height, width or weight limit. If you did in fact exceed those limits, are you to stop in the middle of the road? They are usually placed beyond any logical turn-around or alternate route.

            But confusing communication is not limited to highway signs. And things that should be clearly understood are often not. I recently received a request to answer a question about an item I had purchased on Amazon. “Are the 12” by 20” bags square or rectangular?” Enough said.

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