Friday, February 23, 2007

Campaign to Bring Back Pictograms

As I merged onto the beltway this morning, a sea of brake lights greeted me. 'Greeted' in this case is a euphemism for 'busted my dreams of arriving at the office early like a pinata at an 8-year-old's birthday party.' Eh, I thought, I'll just enjoy my Starbucks Breakfast Blend while I take in the view. Sadly, there's not much of a view on the West side of the inner loop, especially now that it's rimed with ashy gray snow. Yick. Look for yourselves, courtesy of Big Brother.

Phlegmatic traffic isn't rare. Every once in awhile (i.e., three times a week), there's an accident on the stretch of the beltway that I drive. Usually, it's on the other side of the dividng wall. You'd think that wouldn't impact the zippiness on my side, but the morbid commuters with whom I share the road tend to rubberneck. This adds about 10 minutes to my drive. Annoying? Yes. Understandable? Definitely. The desire to drink in carnage isn't new. Didn't festivals accompany drawings, quarterings, and hangings in days of yore?

But I digress.

Guess what caused the clot of traffic on the beltway today? This:

You might be thinking, "Of course it did, MCV. Accidents cause back-ups. Duh." Ah, but I am referring to the sign. Yep, the sign, all by its lonesome, caused the backup on the beltway. My fellow commuters were slamming on their brakes so that they could read about an accident that isn't even on the beltway.

This, I think, runs counter to what the State Highway Administration intended.

Once I passed the sign, everyone accelerated to their normal 55 mph (okay, 65 mph). This proves that they are either (a) too blind to read the sign from a distance, or (b) really, really slow readers. There are approximately 10 words on that sign, and I cannot fathom why anyone would need to cut his velocity in half to read them. It's not Tolstoy, folks. Brevity is the soul of a traffic alert. Didn't Shakespeare say that?

So, I've decided that we need to petition the government to broadcast information like a Highlights Magazine sticker story. Not sure what I mean? Here's my vision:

Sure, sure, ancient cultures did this first. But maybe those wacky Egyptians, Phoenicians, Anatolians, Mayans, etc., were onto something here. Methinks the average person would absorb pictures faster than the pesky numbers and letters we favor in modern times. Whaddya think?

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