Line One
Dashboard Confidential
Everywhere, signs and more signs

By Dave Sweetman


Staff Writer David Tanner’s column in the October ’09 Land Line, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one,” made me think about that Five Man Electrical Band song, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.”

The only trouble is, the darn song would not leave me alone and I have been forced to hear it in my head at all hours, for weeks and weeks. Almost as bad as going to Disneyland and hearing that “It’s a small world after all.” Now you are cursed with it in your heads, too. Thanks, Dave.

So, as a form of therapy, I have been forced to remember signs from all over the country. Some I shall share with the good readers here at Land Line Magazine.

The folks at the Oregon Lottery wisely advise, via billboards, “Lottery games shall not be played for investment purposes.” I can vouch for that one, and with much past experience, may I proclaim that it also holds true for the Mega-Power Balls and just about every slot machine I have ever faced down.

The only time I ever prospered was while playing the slots in Biloxi, MS, while talking on the cell phone with my editor pal Suzanne Stempinski. As long as she was on the phone, I was winning, but as soon as she hung up, I lost big time. I called her back and I started to win again. True story. My law of averages should catch up sooner or later, but I’m still waiting.

In Michigan, on I-94, I’m sure the local residents are a bit uneasy each time they pass the roadside signs that state: “Do not stop. Hitchhikers may be escaping inmates.” Nice vote of confidence, I’d say. Either way, I’m not stopping.

Near Townsend, DE, was a little down-home place called Bucky’s Big Eats. Out front, spray painted in orange Day-Glo paint was a hand-lettered sign proudly offering “FRIED SKRIMP, COFEE.”

I stopped and checked out the “SKRIMP” and they were, indeed, fried and pretty darn good. The COFEE was OK and Bucky was a suitable host. I did notice, upon leaving, a Dumpster out in the parking lot with orange Day-Glo letters with the warning, “NO DUMPETING.” I took it as a sign from above and took my dumpeting somewhere else.

On Interstate 10, between Tucson and Phoenix, several billboards promote, “Junque for Jesus. Turn your Liability into an Asset.”

I thought about this for many miles and am perplexed, as I often am. The liabilities that I do have may not transfer well into being assets. I have had far more experience turning assets into liabilities, but I’m not sure they are worth sharing.

I was tempted to call the number on the billboard, but I’m sure the waiting list was rather long. Plus, if this really was a hotline to the Big Guy himself, what would I say?

Up north in Kenosha, WI, is a rather inviting sign for the Bong Recreation Area. Cheech and Chong may be park rangers, I’m not certain. But since I have a random drug screen coming up soon, I’ll pass on that visit. The only thing I’ll test positive for is fried skrimp, and I don’t think that’s illegal yet.

Strolling across Louisiana, I was enticed by the sign for a rather spiffy gas station offering up “Spectacular Rest Rooms, Sweet Tea and Hot Gizzards.” It was almost too good to pass up, so I just had to stop.

The sweet tea was excellent, as stated. The gizzards were, indeed, very hot from the fryer, along with some good boudin (Cajun sausage). Nothing bad for my diet here, babe.

But my all-time-favorite sign must be the one on the edge of a strip mall shopping center near Farmersville, TX. “DONUTS, GUNS, DAY SCHOOL.” It seems about as All-American as you can get. I mean, think of it: Drop off the rug rats; grab a fresh coffee and a couple jelly donuts; and shop for a new Kimber, pick up a couple boxes of .45, and hit the range for target practice. I am so there; what could be better?

So, if you have any problem with any of these signs, I accept all blame, even though it’s David Tanner’s fault that goofy song is stuck in my head. LL


Dave Sweetman can be reached at