Signs, signs, signs … sigh

You’ve heard the song “Signs, signs, every where there’s signs ….”

Well, if you haven’t, go to and look it up. I remember it by the 5 Man Electrical Band, but a popular remake a few years back by Tesla gave the song renewed interest.

When you think about it, those dang signs are EVERYWHERE. How many times do you pass a Speed Limit sign without paying attention. You know it’s there, but you also know what it says, so you never look at it again. On a street near my home I never paid attention to the “Speed Limit 45” sign until my son mentioned that, to get to his mother-in-law’s house, you had to “turn left on the first street past the Speed Limit sign.” Now, I can’t go down that road without passing the sign and saying, usually to no one, “that’s where Cindy lives.”

As a sportswriter who covers a lot of sporting events, especially on the high-school level, I’m constantly looking at/am bothered by signs in the stands. The same thing happened today (Saturday, May 10) when I got to cover a road race, the Fifth Third River Bank Run, a 25K race in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. Even before the race — which was preceded by 5K and 10K runs — people were readying signs with messages such as “(Fill in the blanks) You Can Do It!” or “(Fill in the blanks) You Rock!” I took a picture of a young girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, holding a preprinted sign that read “KICK SOME ASPHALT.” Funny.

Once the race began, I was riding on the pace vehicle with TV and other newspaper guys. Hanging from one bridge on the race route was a sign that read: “Athletes Run: Others Just Play Games.” Others were on site to promote various volunteer groups that passed out water and protein snacks.

The hand-made, hand-held ones got better as we got further into the race.

For example:

• Run Fast. Zombies Are Behind You.

• Pain Now. Beer Later.

And my favorite, about two miles from the end of the 15-mile race: WTF — Where’s The Finish?

That made me laugh out loud, along with others on the truck with me.

That also made me think of the time my son, Geoff, and I were driving through downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul and I saw a sign (a billboard, actually) that said something about “St. John’s Hospital: Caring for the Sick Since 1945.” Without thinking, I blurted out, “that’s nice, but before then they didn’t give a shit about anyone.” Geoff and I both had a good laugh. Now it’s a running joke that whenever either of us sees a sign like that, a phone call is imminent.

“Do this, don’t do that. Can’t you read the signs?”

Yes, we can. And we usually enjoy what they have to say.


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