I love to laugh at curious signs that I see on our Texas highways. I was driving through the town of Hondo earlier this week when I noticed a curious sign just outside of the city limits.

It read, “Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Inmates.” Of course, I’ve never been brave enough to actually pick up a hitchhiker, and the sign pretty much guaranteed that I never will. It made me think, though, about all the possible scenarios that the sign might have an impact on. Obviously, there must have been a correctional facility nearby, and the sign was just a cautionary courtesy to innocent drivers.

However, suppose you are a legit hitchhiker, and after a long day of thumbing your way along Hwy. 90 going west, you see this sign. Bummer - it sort of guarantees that you are going to be walking all the way to Del Rio. With my luck, I’d be wearing a black and white striped shirt making the chances of ever getting a ride slim to none.

My second thought was, “What kind of dummy would escape from prison, and then try to hitchhike out of the area?” I don’t know about you, but the mere presence of the sign communicates a lack of confidence in the security of our penal system. Obviously, there must have been previous occurrences of escaping inmates trying to hitchhike, or the sign wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

There’s another sign just down the road from where I live that says, “Slow Children at Play.” Now does that mean that I should slow down in case a child might be playing in the middle of the road? On the other hand, it might mean that I should watch out for slow children that might not be able to get out of the way quickly, or it could possibly imply that children in my area happen to have below-average cognitive skill, and decide that playing in the road is a creative form of entertainment.

One more that I noticed recently said, “Sign Not In Use.” I know I’m no administrator for the Texas Department of Transportation, but why not just take the sign down if it’s not in use?

 Oh well, at least we’re not New Mexico. Have you driven through New Mexico lately? They have dotted and solid yellow lines in the middle of the road indicating areas to pass or not to pass just like we do.

However, they also have signs at every transition saying, “Do Not Pass” or “Pass With Care.” It can get confusing seeing these signs contradict each other every 75 yards or so.

“Congestion Ahead” - Now this one always gives me a chuckle. Especially when I remember that I left my antihistamine medication and nasal spray at home.

However, to date, my favorite highway sign was put up by someone who obviously thought it might get a few laughs. I can’t remember exactly where it is, but it’s somewhere around Alpine, Texas. If you’ve never been through there, roads can stretch out for miles without a single bend or curve, and since there are no trees higher than a barstool, you can see that your path does not stray from a straight line far into the horizon.

However, on one of these roads that stretches out straight as an arrow as far as the eye can see, some bloke put up one of those signs with the squiggly line suggesting that the road was about to curve like an overcooked spaghetti noodle.

Now that is a funny sign. On a different note, I’m coming to the end of my one-year commitment to the Hill Country Community Journal, and I need some feedback. If you’re still reading this, please drop me a line and let me know how I’m doing. I’ve been doing this writing gig for a few years now, and I want to do some other stuff. Therefore, I need honest critics. Don’t worry, I have thick skin. Have a great week - Camper John.

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For comments or questions, contact John Kerr at john@ctcinspect.

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