Saturday, March 16, 2013

Signs: No Stopping Any Time

I am no expert at traffic signs, but I'm pretty sure of what this sign means.

So if this sign is pretty clear, then explain this.

From Carlo Montoya's Flickr
For some weird reason, I was drawn to writing about stop signs. Actually, lately I'm drawn to writing about any kind of sign. (Cue background singing: I saw the signs, and it opened up my eyes *Pitch Perfect version.) And to start my series of traffic-sign-inspired posts, let's talk about the No Stopping Any Time sign.

Is it human instinct that we just want to break rules? Is it really that hard not to stop at a No Stopping Any Time sign? Does that sign just make us want to stop, contrary to what it actually means? Is there a program somewhere in us that steps on the brakes and suddenly halts us from whatever we're doing just to stare (mockingly) at the No Stopping Any Time sign? It's like saying to someone, "Hey, don't look now, but that strange person has been staring at you from across the room for a while now." And then what does that someone do? There is a big possibility that instinct will drive that person to turn around and look, oblivious of the first two words that someone's friend just said after hey. We say "Don't look," they look. We say "No talking," they talk. We say "No stopping any time," they . . . don't even listen.

Let's analyze the sign, shall we?

No Stopping Any Time

Isn't it beautiful? The first word of the sign says no. That is probably one of the shortest words in the dictionary (possibly next to I ). It means "not any" as in not at all, not ever, not really ever at all. It simply means no. How hard is it to understand that? When we were kids, they told us "No playing with matches." Admit it, we played with matches and fire behind their back (or wanted to). When we were in school, teachers told us "No talking." We kept talking because that's what kids do. When we got to a higher level in school, they told us "No cheating." We didn't. They also told us "No lying." We did. No jumping on the sofa, no junk food after dinner, no TV after six, no computer games after six, no talking after six, no standing, sitting, sleeping, eating, playing, thinking, breathing, reading, and on and on it goes. No. We've been trained to listen to that word but never really understand it. What does it mean? I mean, what does it really mean? No.

It can be the cause of heartbreak. No, I will not marry you. It can stop you from going to school. No, the scholarship goes to someone else. It can take away your happiness. No, you can't eat chocolates anymore. It can take away your life. I'm sorry, your jeep stopped where it shouldn't have stopped and now you're in the hospital suffering from a terrible car crash between the truck on the road traveling behind your jeep and the jeep you were riding on that stopped at a No Stopping Any Time sign. You have ten seconds to live.

No Stopping Any Time

Taken from the word stop, stopping is its -ing form. Duh. There are so many songs with that root word like "Stop right now, thank you very much. I need somebody with a . . ." or "Stop in the name of love before you break my heart (is that right?)" or "Stop, look, and listen. Stop, look, and listen. Beep, beep, the small jeep is . . ." Yeah. Stop is a very popular word. And this word people actually believe in. Hmm. Actually, I've just had two realizations while typing this down. One is that maybe drivers only see the Stopping Any Time part. No is such a short word and such a small one that people can so easily miss it. So maybe they thought they were following instructions? I don't know. And my other realization is that maybe they're too smart for the makers of this traffic sign. No and stop are negative words. It's a double negative. To avoid such redundancy, maybe they opted to negate it and just stopped. By removing one element, say, the no, then Stopping Any Time becomes more likely of being obeyed. And if stopping would be removed, No Any Time still doesn't make sense, so they stop to try and understand it. It's actually rather clever.

No Stopping Any Time

Any. Another tiny word in a very important sign. It rings of the possibility of something. Are there any more objections? Any more papers to pass? Would any one like to date him? It reeks of excitement and plausibility. Any. The word bounces off like a name, like a longing for something, anything, that can make life different. Any. Just a bit. Just a moment. Just a tiny slice of whatever it is that you are slicing. Any.

No Stopping Any Time

I probably should have closed anytime since that's what we really usually do at work. I think. Anyway, time. Yeah. Time is a beautiful word. It's long and short and forever and always and never all at the same time. It's what we are all running after but never getting enough. It's what we all have but never really take much notice of. We take it for granted until that very last few seconds of life when we realize all the time we've spent on things we should have not spent so much time on. Too much time. Too little time. Time holds us together and breaks us apart. Time runs out on us. Time is expensive. Time sometimes stays in the newsstands for too long. Add an x after e and you get another very expensive piece of time. Time is precious and it's slipping away (and I've been waiting for you all of my life *cue Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin*). Time.

No Stopping Any Time

Well, I guess this sign basically means "not really ever at all stopping just a moment in the nonspatial continuum that makes up the past, present, and future of humanity." No wonder we still find ourselves sitting in jeeps and staring at those No Stopping Any Time signs while waiting for other passengers to climb aboard. (A post shall follow on how passengers can be more civilized and respectful of traffic-sign makers.) No wonder we still find ourselves turning away from the No Stopping Any Time sign when we see it  looming ahead and as we nonchalantly tap on the handrails to signal to the driver that we want to stop the jeep and get off the vehicle . . . there. Right there. Right in front of the No Stopping Any Time sign.

No Stopping Any Time

On a much different note, No Stopping Any Time is actually an encouragement. It means, go on, keep moving forward. Don't quit. Don't stop. Keep running. You're almost there. It means, keep holding on. The last few miles (or meters) may make the difference you were waiting for in your life. It means keep telling your friends the Good News. It means keep smiling (keep shining, knowing you can always count on me). It means life must go on. It means No Stopping Any Time. Keep moving.

No Stopping Any Time

I'm sorry, but I'm going to break that rule now. Here shall I stop, and here shall I  say farewell, for the dawn is coming and the night has passed. I bid you good-bye and remind you to not stop at all, ever.

Have a blessed keep-moving day!

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