Sunday, June 21, 2009


A friend in Australia was talking to me about street signs. “Kangaroo Crossing” was, as I recall, one of them. New to me, of course, but I rather expected it, as we have deer crossing signs around here, as soon as you leave the city. Those signs mean it, although the deer cross anywhere they darned well wish.

I asked her if she ever heard of PED XING and she replied she had not. I wondered what people there, or in other countries, would think of that sign. To us, it’s quite clear: Pedestrian Crossing. Even the pope would call it a no-brainer in either Latin or Bavarian.

Then I got to thinking about DO NOT PASS. For us’n it means clearly that we are to stay in our own blessed lane and not to overtake any vehicles ahead of us, no matter how vital our trip to Stash’s Pierogi Palace might be.

But beware if you are behind a gentleperson from England. On go the brakes, squeal go the tires, stop goes the car. “Do Not Pass” means “Don’t go anywhere beyond this sign.” Could be dangerous, this misunderstanding of signs. We go single-file past the “Do Not Pass” signs in England and go off a cliff; the bloke holds up traffic here.

We use arrows in this part of the earth’s real estate for an advanced left turn; it points, we swing out knowing we’re safe. But, wait! We’re in Quebec City and environs and the green light is blinking at us. Blink, blink, blink. Horns blow, so we assume it’s our turn to take the left. When in Rome … or Quebec …


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