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You Are Illegally Parked!

“Sign, sign Everywhere a sign Blockin' out the scenery Breakin' my mind Do this, don't do that Can't you read the sign?”

That’s how the lyrics went for the 1970 song, Signs, by The Five Man Electric Band. The obvious point was that we were becoming a nation of rules and regulations, and just in case you couldn’t figure out the obvious, someone has felt the need to put up a sign to guide us through each and every rule. Especially the most obvious ones.

I was driving in the mountains a few months ago and there was a sign that said, “Steep Hill.” I wondered how many people would notice the sign, if they had not noticed that they were driving down a steep hill. My wife once observed a guy leaning on a sign at the zoo that said, “Do Not Feed The Bears,” as he was tossing food into the bear’s cage. I have never understood signs that said, “Please Flush Toilet After Use.” I can’t imagine that if I was so pathetically lazy that I didn’t flush the toilet, that I would take the time to read a sign and be inspired to flush. While I’m on the subject of bathrooms, god help the person who needs a sign that says, “No Food Or Drink In Restroom.” Then of course there are the grassy strips along the road barraged with signs supporting every single candidate for every single race. There are so many that I’m pretty sure that some of the candidates are not even real. I have seen some official test rooms that have signs that say, “No Cheating Allowed.” You have to wonder if that proclamation has ever deterred anyone from cheating on an exam. “Damn… I was going to cheat, but there’s a sign!” Since the entire world has gone “pet friendly”, I’ve seen more and more detailed signs explaining which pets are allowed into establishments that are not really appropriate for pets. “No Pets Allowed. No Therapy Pets Allowed. SERVICE Pets Only.” For those who are not aware of the difference, a service pet assists someone with an actual disability. A therapy pet is just a new name for a pet, with the word “therapy” placed in front of it. When I was a kid we were well aware that we could not pee in public. At some point over the past few years, more and more “No Urinating” signs have started showing up in public places. And now, “No Peeing or Pooping” signs are starting to appear in cities. You have to admit that needing that sign says something about our society. There are signs around Yellowstone and other parks out west that say, “Don’t Pet The Fluffy Cows,” meaning do not pet the bison. Just in case you are not bison aware, they can weigh over two thousand pounds and have big, sharp horns on their heads. Yet there are people who need a sign to tell them that they should not try to pet the two thousand pound, sharp horned, wild beasts. Not to be outdone by the bison imbeciles, the park rangers also feel compelled to put up a sign instructing people, “Do Not Feed the Bears.” It seems that the folks who try to feed bison, or perhaps another group all together, believe it to be perfectly reasonable to offer food to six hundred pound grizzly bears with three inch claws. Just as an FYI, if the bear wants your food, the bear will take your food. No need to offer it to him or her. Another fun fact. It’s possible that you might look more delicious to a grizzly than your little Debbie snack cakes do. Something to ponder.

Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere with all this sign stuff. We moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago and other than handicap parking signs, there are no signs in our parking lot and there are no parking instructions in our lease. So, imagine my surprise when, on the second morning in our apartment, we climbed into my truck and found a big, neon green sticker with a picture of a tow truck and the word “WARNING” stamped across the top, slapped onto my windshield. Below the warning sign there was a paragraph explaining that I was illegally parked and the next time my truck would be impounded. Below the towing threat there were twelve lines of reasons why my truck could be towed away, with boxes beside each line. None of the boxes were checked, except for the last one that said, “OTHER,” with something scribbled on the space beside the box. It said, “NO BACKING INTO PARKING SPACES! PARK FORWARD!” Whoever wrote it seemed quite dramatic about how the message was shared.

Now, I gotta tell you, that is something that seems like it would need a sign to let people know that it’s a thing. How the hell would I know that I’m not allowed to back my truck into the parking spot? I mean, there are signs that tell me to not pee or poop in public. And there are signs that tell me that I’m driving downhill. There are signs that tell me to not pet the bison or feed the grizzly. There are signs that tell me which perfect stranger I should vote for and signs that tell me that food in a public bathroom is a bad idea. And yet another sign that tells me that cheating on tests is a no-no. To be honest, I can’t imagine a situation where I would need to read any of those signs. But I’m parking in a parking lot where someone whole heartedly believes that there should be NO BACKING INTO PARKING SPACES, and I am somehow expected to magically be aware of that piece of information. No sign necessary.

In the end, I suppose it’s all par for the course in 2023. Not all that much makes a whole lot of sense these days. I shouldn’t be surprised that there is no sign to explain things that nobody would know… unless there was a sign. Oh well… life goes on.

Sign, sign Everywhere a sign… unless you actually need one.

One last friendly reminder. No Peeing or Pooping In Public!

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