This I Believe

Nic - Kensington, Maryland
Entered on October 16, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe there are too many confusing signs in our lives.

For example, on the label of one of my favorite jams I read: “CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SEEDS.”


Yesyesyes, I know. It’s raspberry and there’s nothing more painful than biting a little seed when it lines up with an older, partially failing, filling, sending an icecoldblueray of pain out your ear.

But honestly, do we have to be cautioned about this? Who in this world doesn’t know that raspberry jam is our closest Western food form to that Japanese dish, Fugu? We don’t teeter on the verge of possible death when we eat raspberry jam, but I doubt that Fugu causes half the pain of a little seed.

Only a neophyte to raspberry jam would need to know that it may contain seeds. Kids may be the only ones to eat this jam un-knowing of the potential seed problem. But, they don’t do much reading at the breakfast table. Plus, they have strong, replaceable milk teeth WITHOUT fillings that are partially failing. They could crunch down happily and either break the seeds or a replaceable milk tooth; they don’t need to be cautioned.

Only driving can get me over this type of confusion although it sometimes adds to it. Once I was driving to work and stopped at a red light. I wanted to turn right and almost did when I saw:










No one to my left; but wait, I saw someone three blocks away. THIS pedestrian was present; did he or she count? To my right, only the local High School with students hanging out in the parking lot.

Could I turn? There were pedestrians on both sides, although I couldn’t possibly hurt any of them without a long range missile. “Pedestrians Present.” Did that mean present in some pre-defined radius to the left of my car? And my right—anything to my right was walking on the sidewalk and couldn’t be hit…

Or did the sign only apply to someone directly in front of me or who WOULD be in front of me in the next 3 seconds? But do we need a sign for this? Is this just telling us what we already know—Don’t turn and hit someone right in front of you?

I tumbled all this around in my brain and the light turned green—figuring out what the sign meant was now moot. Still, I was at such a high level of paranoia that I nudged ahead so slowly that the guy behind me gave a blast form his air horn! Panicked, I floored it and nearly fish tailed into the High School parking lot.

This scared me because the sign in front of the high school read, “25 MPH. Strictly Enforced.”

Of all the places they have to enforce the law, STRICTLY, why am I always in the middle of them?