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Reading the Signs

Written on September 17th, 2015

road closed
Construction signs were erected in the street by my house a month ago. The sign was clear, on a certain date in September the road would be closed due to construction. Many people slowed down and read the sign. It became a local topic of conversation, mostly because the assigned day was the first day of school and our road is a very busy school bus route. Some of the related conversation called into question the intellectual prowess of the decision makers … but I digress.

On the appointed day, the construction crew showed up as announced. Very quickly barriers were erected, more signs posted announcing the road closing and detour possibilities. All very clear to me. It was Friday afternoon before I had an opportunity to sit on my front porch for a while and watch the coming and going. By this time the construction crew was well into its project.

My home is in a perfect position to watch what unfolded. You see the little section of my road remained open to allow access to a small side road just beyond my driveway and the barriers were set just beyond my driveway. For a few restful moments I saw many (enjoyable for me) reactions from those who drove by.

Most obviously was the ignoring of the first road closed sign. The barrier and pylons closing the road were actually just out of sight around the corner. Many drivers simply maneuvered their way around the first sign to proceed maybe 50 metres up the road to be confronted with the closure. (Many of those cars were ones I recognized from the neighbourhood and this was the fourth day of the closure.)

Now, to be honest, most drivers simply made the required u-turn and went on their way. The police could have issued many fines as a number of the drivers immediately picked up their phones; I assume to call saying they would be delayed because of some unexpected road closure or to check google maps as to some redirection.

The real entertainment was the group that chose to make this a more complicated situation. It was obvious that for some this completely ruined their already fragile day. I saw some angry expressions and gestures, looks of total confusion, cars that pulled over with drivers wondering what was next. A few people pulled up to the barrier and waited patiently for a few minutes, I assume hoping some considerate construction worker would wave them through … It didn’t happen with a large excavation traversing the entire road.

My highlight, however, was a driver in a rather large pick-up truck—a white FORD with dual wheels on the rear. This driver obviously understood that the many road closed signs and barrier and pylons didn’t apply to her. She carefully maneuvered through the signs and pylons and around the barrier to get into the construction zone. By this time even the workers were looking in disbelief. She went about two or three truck lengths before she became completely aware of her error in judgement. It took awhile but she did get her truck turned around, made her way through the barrier, pylons and construction sign and by the sound of the gunned engine as she pulled away from the corner, was not pleased with the inconvenient closure.

What amazed me most was the large number of drivers who simply chose to ignore or not trust or not believe the first signs which could have saved them some aggravation and time. As is my tendency I began to wonder if there is some similarity to how we live, ignoring the signs. It may be personal, physical, emotional or spiritual signs that all is not well. I see this sometimes … schools ignoring the signs that the way ahead may be closed or a change of direction is required. And then a well-known text came to mind: Chronicles 12: 32.

From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;

I pray that you may be equipped to read the signs, have the insight to understand and the courage to lead as these signs give direction.