The French love road signs. Not advertising road signs, not “Eat at Jacques”; the kind that give you directions for driving. There are so many that I recently came across and bought an entire book of French road signs and their meanings. As purchase decisions go it probably came 20 years later than it should have, considering my only recent awareness of that most insane of all French driving protocols, the priority a droit, or as I call it, “Likelihood of Imminent Death Ahead”.
There are enough signs in the book to keep one busy for quite awhile, and while the majority are clear and make sense, the sheer number of them makes a person from a US state with a reciprocal agreement with the French on drivers licenses (that would be me) extremely happy to not have to take the driving exam which, I have been told, is monitored with ferocious attention to accuracy.
“A majority are clear and make sense.” I did say that. But then you encounter a square blue sign with a white arrow pointing up. ” Required Direction, But Not Necessarily a One Way Street” . Huh?
What does that mean ?
What, is this merely a suggestion ? Are there road signs now with suggestions of things that you might want to do but its OK if you don’t? Is this like Boston, where Beloved Wife says, “The lane system has never really caught on” and motorists form five lanes entering the Callahan Tunnel where three entry lanes are marked on the road ? Hello?
But it’s a sizable book, and I read on, arriving eventually at the Show Stopper. It is a triangular sign, mostly white with a red border, and in the middle, a black exclamation mark. It is a sign of warning.
What ? What do you mean, “Unspecified danger ?”
It isn’t that they don’t know. It doesn’t say unknown danger. THEY KNOW but they’re not saying. “So, just keep going and be on your guard” ? Is that it ?
What could it be ? Has there been a volcano eruption and the road is closed by a lava flow ?
Has a trainload of man eating tigers been derailed and even as I read this they’re running loose, devouring small pets and children ?
Have the Germans invaded ? (Oi. What, again?)
Nah. They probably have a sign for that.