International Signs

So long as the symbols are fairly representative, traffic signs in different countries can be understood by drivers from foreign lands. Arabic numerals represent speed clearly enough, and things like leaping animals or railroad tracks communicate clearly. Police tape, whether it’s used to cordon off a collapsed bridge, a burnt out building or a crime scene, is fairly international, too, even when it’s printed in traditional Chinese characters and bears the phoenix emblem of Taiwan’s constabulary. 

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A few weeks ago on a walk through our urban neighborhood in the USA, we noticed a home not unlike our own with yellow caution tape strung between poles all around the front yard, which had been dug up in several places. My imagination began to soar.  “Why do you suppose the police have put up crime scene tape around that yard?” I asked.  “What do you think the police are digging for over there?”  “How many bodies, or pieces of bodies do you suppose they’ve found?”   “When did the crime happen?”  I was soon shut down and told to do my musing in private.  I wasn’t even allowed to cross the street to have a closer look. 

Reflecting on the positioning of the posts, tape and “diggings”, I’m thinking it was the installation of some underground sprinkling apparatus, and the contractor’s or homeowner’s insurance company was being legitimately vigilant. 

But buried body parts sure makes for a better story.

David Alexander now imagines vain things in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.


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