One evening after work I was out walking my dog, a small terrier – mix named Pumpkin. I suppose that Pumpkin has forced me to take more mindful walks due to her short stature. I now notice things around me that I wouldn’t ordinarily notice because I would be more focused on distance and cardio level.
As Pumpkin and I were strolling, I noticed how many signs fill our neighborhood. Signs with directives, instructions and absolute orders: “no passing on the left”, “one way”, “no parking here to corner”, “bump”, “one way”, “stop”, “do not enter” and even playground instructions or “play smart rules”. Signs with the name of streets and even signs in people’s yards showing a dog squatted to poop with a circle and a line through it, often with the word “PLEASE” highlighted above the dog image.
I began to think about all the messages that these signs project to the community. I wondered if we could flash a sign, perhaps on our foreheads, that would provide information to others. Information about our needs, requests, wants and even warnings. How nice that might be. No need to explain, argue or feel bad for asking questions. The message merely lights up on our foreheads and others need only obey the directives or simply be informed.
Think about some of the bad dates you might have had. Don’t you wish that your date bore a sign like; “be prepared to stop”, “exit only”, “hidden driveway” or “keep left”? How many “I told you so’s” could you have avoided? I wondered about all the conversations that felt more like monologues by the other person. Wouldn’t It have been helpful if they had a sign that said something like “one-way street” or “no U turns”? How extremely helpful that would have been – not to mention, a great time management tool.
How many of us have missed the sign for the “Recharge Vehicle station”? Instead, we continue to burn energy with work and commitments to friends and family until our engines stall and we find ourselves stuck on the side of a remote street.
Sometimes we might not see the sign before we enter into a situation, but the signs do present themselves and it is important that we do acknowledge them. I have heard many people talk about the “red flags” they were aware of but had ignored at the time. Perhaps they were preoccupied by the scenery and did not fully grasp the meaning of the sign or they did not trust what they saw.
I began to think about these signs and the ones I would like to have available in certain times of my life or particular times of the day. When I am sitting at the computer and am pulled out away from my body while writing and then someone knocks on my front door or decides to ask me a question. I wish I had a sign “road closed”, or “caution” or “no parking.” When I am playing with my grandson, I need the sign “beware unfenced road for next 150 Km” or the squiggly arrow for a crazy ride! There are some people that need a “do not enter” sign and others I would like to see have the “share the road” sign”.
Think about the people in your life and what signs you would like or need to light up on your forehead when you are around them. Or what sign you wish would light up on someone else’s forehead to warn you or welcome you. Have fun with this and as always keep your pen moving and “no parking.”
Some sign examples: “stop”, “yield”, “R/R”, “dead end”, “no U turns”, “no passing”, “do not enter”, arrows pointing in various directions, “pedestrian crossing”, “parking” and “no parking”, “one way”, “slippery road” or “sharp curves”, “give way”, “wrong way”, “traffic light”, “bike route”, and “trash sign-Pitch in”, “construction ahead”, “caution”, “road under construction”, “speed limits”, “food and gas signs”, signs “warning of falling rock in mountain areas” or “animal crossings”, there are even “social distancing” signs now, and of course signs with “rules at swimming pools, playgrounds and parks”, “avalanche area”, “no vehicles beyond this point”, “pavement ends”, “blind corner proceed with caution”, “cross traffic ahead”, “hard hat area”, “private driveway”, “road may flood”. Look around as you walk and notice signs and imagine how and when you might use that sign.
- Find as many signs as you can and write them down.
- Begin to make a list of people you feel you need a sign for to either welcome them or to keep them distant.
- Imagine you are able to have these signs light up on your forehead when you encounter these people. What would they state? Who would you need the sign’s for?.
- Write about what that would look like and how that would feel.
- Write about the signs you wish someone else had on their forehead and how that would have been helpful.
- Write a list of situations where you could use a special sign (in social settings, walking your dog, on campus or at work).
- Write about a sign you wish was on someone else.
- Create a scene where every character has a sign. Maybe it is a first meeting or a job interview. Imagine how that scene would play out and write your scene.
When I was in high school, I was invited by a very popular boy to our senior prom. I was not one of the popular kids. In fact, I was surprised he even knew me. I was very excited of course but also nervous since I had not dated anyone in high school. I worked at an equine center to earn riding lessons. I worked every weekend and a few nights a week mucking stalls. While everyone else was “hanging out,” I was working.
I told my mom that I was invited to the prom and she took me shopping for a dress. We looked at only a few stores and I was acutely aware of the need to keep in a budget. I did find a dress that fit well, and I was comfortable in and so my mom put the dress on layaway. She was to pay the balance and pick up the dress 3 days before my prom. I could see her hesitation on getting the dress, not because she didn’t want me to have it, but I think she knew something was not right. I wish that her thoughts could have been displayed on her forehead. The ones I saw in her eyes said, “blind corner, proceed with caution”.
Three weeks later and two weeks before the prom, this popular boy stopped me in the hall at school and asked what the color of my dress was so he could order flowers. I told him blue – not a deep royal blue, but a robin’s egg blue, soft and innocent. Four days before prom night he called me over to his locker and told me he was not going to take me to the prom, he said he was taking someone else that he really wanted to go with. I wish that I had seen the sign on his forehead before this, a sign that stated, “U-turn”, “Dead end”, or “bridge out do not enter.” I stood there leaning against the grey metal locker, #105. I don’t really remember what I did or didn’t do but the appropriate sign would have been the yellow crime scene tape. Or “detour”, so that I could have remained frozen and everyone could have gone around me, left me there invisible.
I did have to tell my mom, so she did not pay for the dress still on layaway. I chose to tell her I decided not to go. I put up a sign that stated, “drive slow saves lives”. She never asked me about why I had decided not to go or to try to fish for the real reason. But I imagine my mom went to the store to get her money back for the blue prom dress with a sign on her forehead stating, “private road no thru traffic”, or “no idling allowed”.