Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Want to hear something spectacular? Well then, go down into an underground station of the LRT in Edmonton. Make sure to be in a station with concrete walls and a high ceiling that echoes like the Swiss Alps. Wait for a quieter moment. Then pull out a white cane, take a few quick steps forward and propel a WET FLOOR sign into space. (Note: I suspect you don’t have to look for a station that has a wet floor. Pretty much any station will do.) Wait for the sign to clatter back on the ceramic floor, hit it a second time if it lands in a straight path just in front of you, and you’ve got a hubbub worthy to remove the ear buds and turn the head of even the most obtuse teen-ager. Is it just my imagination, or are WET FLOOR signs more popular these days? Admittedly, my memory isn’t what it used to be. I check three times to make sure I turned the oven on, four times to be sure I turned it off. Still, you’d think that a person with the capacity to spontaneously recall half the lyrics to half the songs on the pop charts of 1966 would not have forgotten the WET FLOOR signs from the good old days of her youth. Surely she would have noticed them if they had been as popular as smokers in Ladies’ washrooms. Or is it just that, in these smoke-free times, a lot of things have become more clear? Anyway, until somebody proves me wrong, I am going to stick with the theory that there are more WET FLOOR signs than there used to be. I’d say they border on the ubiquitous. You find them in places both private and public—taking up 90% of the available floor space in the washrooms at Tim Horton’s, cluttering the vast expanse in the tiled lobby of the dentist’s office, not to mention the place where I encounter most of them—centred boldly in the narrow pathways that lead from the street to the trains of the LRT. Why, just last week—on a single trip to work--I took out four of them—sent them flying, spinning end over end, clattering on their sides, sliding like hockey players on their way to the boards. . Each encounter in its turn was surprising, noisy, a moment of high drama. Four encounters in the early morning rush of sleepy commuters. A record to be sure, and still I’ll never know how many possible others I missed. There is a difference between being noticed and being stared at. I am not, and have never been, the kind of woman who likes to be stared at. Give me a joke, and I’ll try to make you laugh. Give me a stage with a mic and I’ll tell you a story, might even sing you a song. But send me out to work on a sleepy commuter morning, and I would prefer to be unnoticed or at least to imagine that I am unnoticed. I would prefer to have digital WET FLOOR signs flashing high on the walls rather than littering the floors in the most obvious paths of travel. I would prefer to be able to see these blasted items of clutter and not hit them at all. At the very least, I would choose to have WET FLOOR signs present only when floors are wet, rather than hanging about for hours on floors that probably dried yesterday. But if I can’t have any of these things, then please endow me with the delusion that the WET FLOOR sign launching event is one of the funniest entertainments of the day, if not for the startled on-lookers, then at least for me. Let me hear the applause when a perfect hit is made! Let me bow in humble gratitude for the twisted fate that presented the opportunity to entertain! It’s not such a big stretch of the imagination, is it?