April Ziemer, Editor

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign? These were lyrics sung by Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band. The tune popularized the relatively unknown band. In 1971, “Signs” reached No. 4 in Canada and No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 24 song for 1971 and it became a gold record. The song was covered and recorded live by Tesla for their Five Man Acoustical Jam album in 1990, peaking at number 8 on the Pop charts.

It doesn’t matter where you are, it seems as if you are bound to lay sight on a sign of some sort. It may be for advertising reasons or as a welcome into a park or neighborhood. Obviously a very common type is the traffic sign. 

Since our oldest daughter is learning how to drive, we have especially taken note of every Stop, Merge, One-Way, and Deer Crossing. They have almost become a symbol of worship for my husband and I as we pray in passing she does not hit them.

After a few years of being behind the wheel and repeatedly driving the same paths, these signs may not jump out at you the same way as they did when you were wheeling through unfamiliar territory, or the way they do when your 15-year-old seems to be driving within inches of them. 

We helped Rylee study her signs, as well as other driving dos and don’ts before her permit exam. After passing her test, we made a trip to the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to finish up the process. I have decided it is unfair the DMV gets a bad rep. We received superb service during our visit. I think many state DMV and Department of Transportations (DOT) workers get viewed as having stern personalities. 

In my internet searches of rules applying to driving and signage while helping Rylee study, I came across some interstate digital display signage that proved some state DOT workers are actually quite entertaining.

Some of the road signs I saw offered driving instructions for highway travelers. Such as the one displayed in Massachusetts, which read, “It’s right by the steering wheel. Changing Lanes? Use yah blinkah!”

People who drive slowly in the left lane are both annoying and dangerous and people in Missouri are obviously not going to put up with it anymore. “Camp in the Ozarks-not in the left lane,” was recently shown on a DOT sign.

Last week Minnesota’s new hands free law went into to affect for the safety of the state’s travelers. They could now borrow digital displays featured in Rhode Island which read, “Get your head out of your APP!” and “Texting while driving, oh CELL NO!”

I think it is great when some states keep their digital messages in line with the season. “He sees you when you’re speeding,” was featured in Wyoming. “Deck the halls-not the guy who cut you off,” was on display in New Jersey. An Arizona board once displayed, “May the 4th be with you,” and “Gobble Gobble go easy on the throttle,” entertained Thanksgiving drivers in Maine. 

I really appreciate that somewhere sitting in the programming chair for DOT signage are some people who really have a sense of humor. In California, signage hung above freeways with the following messages: “You’ll never get to work on time HAHA!!” As well as, “State Prison next exit, do not pick up hitchhikers.” 

Our good neighbors to the south in Illinois, have proudly displayed, “Drive like the person your dog thinks you are.” As well as, “Single in a Carpool Lane? Get a real date, not a court date.”

One of my favorites was featured in Texas. It read, “That’s the temperature-not the speed limit.” 

Although I am not a sports fan, I also got a kick out of a New York sign warning drivers there was a broken down vehicle ahead. The DOT sign read, “Tire flat as a Patriots Football.”

I have decided if this writing gig does not work out, maybe a job as a sign writer for the Wisconsin DOT or DMV might be right up my alley. On second thought, maybe not. I just remembered what their uniforms look like.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.

Feel free to email me at editor@theameryfreepress.com, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101.

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