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on the Road!
Dog on the Road
Part II - Signs of the times
by Mad Dog
How can one road actually be
I-10 West, Rt. 61 North and Rt. 285 South at the same time, unless the Department of
Transportation has done what even Einstein couldnt and proved that you really can be
in two places at once.
|| Drive across
America and youll see a lot of signs. Thats the great thing about this
countryanyone with a jar of paint and a brush is free to use them as they see fit.
Spelling, clarity and a compelling need are optional at best.
A lot of the signs are official. Cities, states and the federal government are all strong
believers in signs. Thats why sign painters have the lowest unemployment rate of
anyone in this country. Next to foreign lobbyists, of course. Ive seen intersections
with as many as 17 signs stacked up, including street signs, highway signs, parking signs
and more arrows aimed in more directions than Cupid at five minutes to two on a Friday
night in Houlihans. And the directions can be downright mind boggling. How can one road
actually be I-10 West, Rt. 61 North and Rt. 285 South at the same time, unless the
Department of Transportation has done what even Einstein couldnt and proved that you
really can be in two places at once.
Many years ago someone told me how the road
numbering system works. As I remember, its a little less complicated than
trigonometry but dangerously close to numerology. Im sure theres someone
somewhere, probably in Jackson Square in New Orleans, who can tell your fortune by the
roads youve recently traveled. A road with a 13 in it is bad luck, riding down Rt.
69 will bring success in love and sex, and God help anyone who travels on State Road 666.
I noticed that a lot of the Texas state highway
signs have an outline of the state on them with the highway number in the middle. They
missed a good opportunity here to score brownie points with travelers. While the map is
purely decorative, it would make life much easier if the highway number were placed in the
state outline according to where you are, sort of a "You are here" symbol.
was in Rogersville that I passed a business that carved memorial gravestones. Hanging out
in front was a big banner that read: Clearance Sale, 20-70% off.
|| For some reason
these state outlines are only used to indicate Farm Roads, which as you get to west Texas
become Ranch Roads. Is it somehow important to know theres a farm or ranch down that
road? I havent noticed any signs in Texas labeled Business Roads, Church Roads, or
Condo Roads, which would indicate there are stores nearby, a place to pray for directions
to the nearest McDonalds, or a lot of people living in apartments which they think
they own yet for some inexplicable reason they still have to pay rent every month.
When I was driving through Tennessee I thought they
were being helpful by putting a stylized picture of a jet on top of the highway signs,
letting me know theres an airport up ahead. After about a hundred miles I realized
that either Tennessee has more airports per capita than any other state or they had a lot
of these signs donated by the Audobon Society so they tacked them up anywhere they had
room. The truth came out when I realized that what I thought was a jet plane sitting on
top of the sign was actually a picture of their state bird, the mockingbird. And as
mockingbirds are wont to do, this one was pretending to be a jet. So much for
Speaking of Tennessee, it was in
Rogersville that I passed a business that carved memorial gravestones. Hanging out in
front was a big banner that read: Clearance Sale, 20-70% off. Every once in a while you
run across a deal thats just too good to pass up. If only Id had Dr.
Kevorkians home phone number with me I could have stopped and scarfed up on the
still one I think we could use more of on the road: Clean rest rooms.
|| There was the sign for
the "Skinquarter Taxidermist" in Virginia, the "Just Nails Hair Salon"
in San Antonio (proving that the age of specialization has given way to the age of non
sequiturs), and the signs erected for the Kodak Moment Challenged at Cumberland Falls
which pointed towards the gloriously thundering waterfall while declaring: "Photo
just put up signs to try to climb on the bandwagon. I could tell a lot about the
populations ancestry in Castroville, Texas just by driving by. First there was the
Alsatian Bakery, then the Alsatian Restaurant, and finally the Alsatian Golf Course. This,
obviously, is where they yell "Quartre!" when they drive a ball down the
But with all these signs theres still
one I think we could use more of on the road: Clean rest roomsnot only for
customers. Hey, a guy can dream, cant he?
©1997 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Just look
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