Sign spotting: Part 1- Personal Safety

My little brother loves the Signspotting books. He owns them all. I know this, because he has shown them all to me. Repeatedly.

He typically goes through phases where he is fairly obsessed with one particular set of reading and/or movie materials (sometimes there is a clear connection between the reading materials and DVDs in his stack, other times not). He’s really into series of things, like, say, all of the Star Wars movies, or Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers, or a stack of Cleveland Cavs paraphernalia and Media Guides from the past five years, from which he will regale us with various statistical tidbits, staring intently at me over his glasses, and talking as if I know anyone other than LeBron on the team– wait, he left, right? Haha, just kidding. That’s a terrible joke. I’m sorry).

Anyway, the Signspotting books are on regular rotation. Over the years, I’ve seen most of them. Repeatedly, as I may have mentioned. So I started taking my own sign-spotting pictures as I traveled. And here they are.

To make it even more fun, they’re going to be spread out across a few posts. Then you have to come back and read my blog for more. Though I’m sure you come back regularly and read it anyway. (Thanks Grandma, I love you 🙂 )


So here we go:

Lauren’s Sign Spotting: Part 1- Personal Safety


Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada

Grand Manan Island New Brunswick

Caution: if you run enthusiastically off the cliff, popcorn will fall out of your feet.


Somewhere in Florida, USA

no fireworks at gas station

“No fireworks discharge within 300 feet.”


This is a gas station, somewhere in Florida, that sells fireworks. And gasoline. One stop shopping. Because I generally want to buy fireworks and diesel fuel at the same time. Doesn’t everyone?

But at least there is a fire extinguisher handy. Just in case you don’t pace out those 300 feet quite right.

I took this picture a few years ago, as I was driving back to Ohio from Titusville, Florida, where I had an internship at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I am alarmed that this needs to be put up as a warning on a gas station. And why only 300 feet? I’m fairly certain I don’t want someone shooting off fireworks 400 feet from where I’m pumping gas, let alone 300. And does that 300 feet start from the door, or from the furthest gas pump?



Phi Phi Island, Thailand

phiphi island thailand


Remember, our body is not a life buoy. Because we, collectively, only have one body, and apparently it doesn’t float all that well.

Also, getting run over by a boat is bad.


Prince Edward Island, Canada

The signPrince Edward Island lighthouse sign

Interpretation: It is unstable to stand on a tilty platform on the edge of a kite, because you might fall on the floating rocks.

Honestly, that picture doesn’t make the bank look all that steep. That’s barely one body length. In real life, the drop is much, much, much steeper. Also, in real life you can’t even get to the edge because they put up a fence. Probably because all the tourists accidentally drive their cars off or something.

This is next to the East Point Lighthouse on PEI, which is on the northeastern tip of the island. It’s all open and exposed around the lighthouse (which I was too cheap to pay to climb, because as I visited on a rainy day, I suspected the view would be similar to the one from the ground– foggy).

If they’re so concerned about erosion, then they probably shouldn’t put unsecured platforms on the cliff edge. Or lighthouses, for that matter.

Conclusion: They are very concerned about you falling off the edges of things in Canada (see first sign).



Thác Datanla, Dalat, Vietnam

dalat vietnam waterfall

This sign was posted along the edge of the waterfall, either because the slippery rocks are dangerous and they don’t want you to fall and get hurt, or because it’s poisonous. Slightly different things. If you read neither English nor Vietnamese, I would think you’d be a little confused. Though I’m sure that if you drank the water in the waterfall you’d probably get sick, so maybe that’s what they meant.

Oh, and this was the waterfall where a man dressed in an elaborate red monkey costume stuck his finger in my ear. He almost got an elbow in the jugular (since I’m taller than most Asian men, the elbow meant for his gut would have hit a bit higher), which would have definitely knocked him into the “poisonous” area behind the sign. Because where I come from, we don’t do that. I do realize that I’m a visitor to your country, and that Ohioans can be a strange breed sometimes, but there are a few core values that I refuse to compromise. Such as having foreign objects and appendages stuck in my ears. That would be a no-no.

As my sister would say:

False. You will not be doing that. 


And there we have it. Look for part 2 coming soon!

For more entertainment until then, you should read more about Eric in this blog post:

Things My Brother Says 

It makes me giggle every time I read it.



Written for my MatadorU course a few weeks ago. The assignment was to write a piece that included dialogue. There were a few other requirements as well, but I don’t remember what they were (other than the 500 word limit) and may have disregarded some of them anyway, so there’s no point in trying to figure out what they were. 

Yellowstone National Park

“Next please!”

I lead the way to the cashier.

“Ok Eric, you go first. Get your wallet out.” It’s already in his hand from the pouch of his hooded sweatshirt. Brown leather, embossed Ohio State logo on the front, bulging with old receipts. He’s the only male I’ve ever met who keeps coins in his billfold.

The cashier rings up his book: Jasotron: 2012. This is how he refers to it, for it’s important to recite the whole title each time the book is mentioned, which will happen hundreds of times in the next few days.

“That’s $17.49.” She is a young college student, in black-rimmed glasses and a cardigan, watching us quietly.

He looks at me over his glasses, one of his usual intense looks, staring into my eyes, waiting for me to re-direct.

“Ok, how are you going to pay?” I ask. “With your debit card or cash?”

“I think I have enough cash.” He thumbs through the bills; ones, a few fives, and two twenties.

“Then get out the right amount,” I say.

He pulls out a $20 bill, stares at it a beat longer than seems necessary, and hands it to the cashier. He won’t, or can’t, look at her. She efficiently completes the transaction.

“Here’s you change.”

He holds out a large hand, chapped and red because he won’t wear gloves or use lotion, and she carefully places the bills and coins into his palm. She puts the receipt between the pages of his book and slides it to him.

“Have a good evening,” she says. He won’t look up or acknowledge her, too busy putting bills and coins in their proper place, tucking his wallet safely away. He stands close behind me while I pay for my book, his nose buried in his purchase.

“Have a good evening,” she says again.

“Thanks, you too,” I reply.

He’s in the autism spectrum, I want to explain. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. He’s 21 and he’s only once gone into a store alone and bought something by himself. He can’t make eye contact with strangers, and only with intense nudging will he speak to them. It used to be worse; now he’ll order for himself in restaurants.

He’s my little brother, and I can’t imagine life without him. He’s frustrating at times, but my life is infinitely richer because of him. He’s funny, he tells jokes. He’s genuine; he never tries to be something or someone he isn’t. He doesn’t know how to be malicious. He can do so much, if only you know how to prompt him along. Just because he appears to be unresponsive doesn’t mean he’s stupid. He can’t communicate. But we’re working on it.

Thanks, I want to say again. Thank you for treating him as you would any other customer. Thanks for trying to look him in the eye and understand.

I want to say this, but I don’t, and we walk out to the car.