Here is a picture of two traffic signs in my town. The one I want to discuss is the lower one that shows a left-turn with a red slash through it.
A left turn at this spot is a quick way to get from a major street to a popular grocery store. The alternative is to travel another quarter mile down the road to a busy traffic signal, then make a u-turn and drive back to enter the parking lot from the other side of the road.
For years now, I have taken a left turn at this juncture because it is more convenient.
Several weeks ago, when the younger person was in town for the weekend, we drove to the grocery store.
"Turn left here," I told him.
"You mean in front of the no-left-turn sign?" he asked.
Suddenly I saw the sign with new eyes. I had never noticed it before.
Later I went down to our police department and had a conversation with the desk sergeant.
"Have I been breaking the law all these years?" I asked.
"No," he said. "That sign was put up four or five months ago. You've only been breaking the law since last spring."
What a relief.
I went back to the scene with my point-and-shoot camera. Here is what I saw.
There is an old question: If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a noise?
This, I believe, is a similar conundrum: If the police department puts up a new traffic sign and nobody sees it, is it really there?
For friends in my town, I offer this as a warning.