Read The Signs!

March 27, 2011

All things considered, I think we are becoming stupider.

Maybe it’s something in the water, or in the food we eat, but as a species, Homo sapiens do not seem to be as sapient as it used to be.

Looking back on the species’ history, that’s saying a lot.

Get this: I live on a little private road off the main road that runs from a four-lane to Gettysburg, Pa. The main road, Steinwehr Ave. or Emmitsburg Road, depending on how long you’ve lived here, is how most tourists get to the Gettysburg National Military Park. That is, of the nearly 2 MILLION people who come to visit the battlefield, a big chunk of them use that road.

Our little road is getting an awful lot of traffic lately. That’s inconvenient, because the road goes half a mile, give or take, and into a cedar thicket.

The point is, for most of the cars and trucks thumping and banging down our road, there is nowhere to go. When this fact dawns on the car occupants, they mostly scowl at us -– as though this were somehow our fault — find a place to turn around, and drive off in a huff.

Let me explain.

My road serves the needs of 20 or so of the most independent individuals on the planet. Truck drivers, factory workers, a taxidermist, teachers, one of whom, Rob, is a Civil War re-enactor, a federal employee, one veterinary student, an attorney and a semi-retired journalist (that would be me.)

Driving down our road is like a visit to Ripley’s. Each section of the road is paved or not paved, according to the whim of the person who owns that section of it. The asphalt in the paved portions varies in width and depth, according to the negotiating skills and wherewithal of the owner.

So, here’s the problem.

On March 7, the state closed the bridge on the Emmitsburg Road, the one that leads to Gettysburg, with plans to demolish it and put up a shiny new bridge, one that’s wider and higher so that when Marsh Creek floods the bridge and its approaches won’t be under water. We all think that would be a pretty good thing.

The contractor put up BIG signs a mile or so in either direction, advertising “Road Closed. Local Traffic Only,” or words to that effect. These signs are painted a subtle orange with black letters, and are quite large.

About a mile later, spaced appropriately, are more signs, similarly garish in color, saying “Road Closed 1500 feet,” then “Road Closed 1000 Feet,” and “Road Closed 500 Feet.”

About 500 feet later, Voila! There are great big orange and black signs and black and white striped barriers. The signs say, you guessed it: Road Closed.”

Behind that are big yellow machines and men in orange vests and bright yellow hard-hats, busily demolishing the old bridge.

Last Saturday, we stood on the bridge for 10 minutes and watched 10 cars drive past all the signs only to stop and the construction, turn around and scoot back the other way, some of them squealing their tires.

About one out of every 10 turns right into our tiny road and drives past the sign that says NO OUTLET and into our little world. Some of these people turn around in our yards, causing all sorts of damage.

Those of us outside at the time wait patiently (well, sort of…) for the inevitable questions.

Car stops. Window rolls down. Is this how we get to Gettysburg?

Take deep breath. Censor first five or six really snarky things I want to say.

“No ma’am. This is a dead-end road. The sign as you turned in said so.”

Why weren’t there any signs telling us the road was closed?

Another deep breath. Censor the one big wisecrack I really, really wanted to say, one involving several old Anglo-Saxon terms.

“There were, ma’am. About a half dozen of them over that mile and a half stretch.”

Well, we didn’t see them.

“I sorta figured that, ma’am.”

A sour look pinches her face as the window rolls back up. The high-end SUV trundles and squeaks back down the road.

So, it’s early spring. The tourists season starts in earnest on Memorial Day.

It’s going to be a loooonnnnngg summer. Maybe we can get Rob to kit himself out in his soldier regalia and stand guard by the No Outlet sign. He could bayonet anybody with out-of-state plates who drove past the sign.

© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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2 Responses to “Read The Signs!”

  1. Claire patton said

    Very good and funny. But hate to tell you this is not new. We lived in the country, on a country road, with a BIG Culvert(country people know what that is) for 16 years. Someone had the nerve to wake us up at 3 in the morning to help them get out of the culvert. What were you doing on a country road, in our dirt driveway at 3 in the morning?? They are lucky our killer dog did not eat them before they got to our door.

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