The folks at the paper thought this would be too controversial to run, so I was given permission to post it here. Just an observation...
Watch out for Speed Hump
Him. Her. Me.
Very innocuous words but when painted onto Southeast 13th Avenue, they suddenly are Canby’s most wanted words.
There is a war going on the busy south side street, with battles that happen on a regular basis and instead of gunshots, involve the steady hissing of spray paint.
The battlefield is a “speed hump” that was installed in front of Ackerman Middle School. I’m not sure when the traffic calming device was installed – it’s been at least a year if not two – but ever since my trips across town have become increasingly more entertaining.
OK yes, my wife has long used my giggling at the “Speed Hump” sign as further evidence I have the psyche of a 12-year-old boy hopped up on Reese’s Pieces and Red Bull. The charges are hard to fight when I do have a Star Wars action figure collection, play Xbox regularly and still read comic books. But I digress.
Now, some might think the yellow “Speed Hump” sign, might be enough (I really want to make an immature joke here, like “that’s what she said,” or “I need one of these signs for my bedroom” but my editor won’t let me). However, I have witnessed firsthand, drivers who are eating, doing their hair, texting and putting on makeup, literally launch their cars into the stratosphere after missing the bright yellow sign and hitting the hump (giggle) at full speed. Which, as we all know, is 40 miles per hour in a school zone when children, and police, aren’t present.
Of course what was needed were huge white capital letters painted on the street that say “HUMP SLOW.”
That’s exactly what the city did to help drivers realize they were approaching a jump ramp which would make Ken Block, or even Evel Knievel, nervous.
One problem, the hump is in front of a middle school.
In a quirky twist of fate, the Federal Highway Administration has a “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” and I am sure somewhere in this book, there are guidelines for traffic warnings painted on streets. In the rules, I am sure the amount of space between words, is clearly delineated. Which in this case, leaves just enough space between the words “HUMP” and “SLOW” that students, who are still learning the power of objective personal pronouns, spray paint “him,” “her,” and my favorite “me” in between two large all-caps message.
This is causing a bit of a hump in the road.
In response to this act of vandalism and sex education, city workers have regularly gone out with black paint and covered over the problematic pronouns.
So each couple of weeks someone with my sense of humor, goes out and completes the sentence, and city workers edit it. Over the course of the year, it has happened so much, that if you slow down, you can read in black paint, the message the city doesn’t want you to read. Having you hump at the correct speed which was the point of the sign in the first place.
I am waiting for the battles to escalate, and for city crews to put up cameras around the hump to catch the carnal-advising criminals.
Until then, however, I will continue to HUMP (him, her, me) SLOW and I hope you will too.