14 June 2020
Many years ago, after we were married but back BC (before children), we were driving up in the north west. Obviously, I was in the passenger seat, which has been my designated seat for much of our life together.
Along our drive along the sealed road, I started to notice the warning signs, advising about upcoming roadworks. Unsealed road ahead, they warned. Very rough road ahead, it clearly stated. The signs started to get a little more emphatic and frequent. The driver maintained his constant speed, but then sudden braking was not a new experience for me in the passenger seat so I didn’t think anything more about it until we suddenly hit deep corrugations in the road, unsealed and rough as promised.
The driver was supremely indignant that they had not at least put up a warning sign.
Between bouncing around in the car trying to save myself from being thrown through the windscreen, I managed to gasp out that there had been numerous signs over the past two or three kilometres.
He hadn’t noticed.
I have, of course, reminded him every now and then over the past 36 or so years of this event. Because he still doesn’t pay an awful lot of attention to the signs.
This morning while travelling on the freeway, he was relating to me a travesty of signage that he and the youngest son had noticed the previous day. Apparently the signage was so confusing as the speed dropped to 80kmh IMMEDIATELY AFTER A SIGN FOR 100kmh!!!!! How on earth was a law abiding person meant to be able to work out what this meant?
He showed me the section of the road, and yes there was a road works sign , warning of speed change up ahead – about 100m or so after the existing speed sign. There was also a flashing neon sign, and a number of yellow warning signs telling you that the speed limit ahead is going to change.
The single yellow sign at the end of the roadworks alerting him to the speed limit returning to normal??? That one he saw.
So our topic today is warning signs. It must be the bane of the existence of medical and other professionals everywhere that people are told about what warning signs they need to be looking for. But get ignored because well, quite frankly, “I didn’t think it related to me”.
Because here’s the things with signs – unless you’re looking for them, they may as well not be there.
Whether it’s road safety warning signs, medical warnings, mental health warning signs, signs of racial intolerance, signs of a potential public health crisis, or signs that you’re running low in your toilet paper supply…
We now have new warning signs entering into our daily lives. Things about 1.5m, and about hand sanitiser. Still we see people blithely charging past these signs, intent on getting to where they want to be as fast as possible. They have become such familiar signs that we don’t take a second to think about whether we are doing the right thing, and for the right reason.
Like the apparently inconveniently placed lower speed limit placement on the freeway, warning signs are there to protect someone. Or a lot of someone’s. Might be us, might be someone else.
Surely the signs are worth watching for?
If you have a chronic sign-ignorer in your family like I do, I think it’s our moral duty to nag. All the time.
We are just saving humanity, really.