AS a youngster, I lost count of the number of times my father said to me: “There’s nothing as uncommon as common sense” when I had – again – failed to apply the commonsense test to my own behaviour.
As I’ve aged, I think I make fewer such decisions; but I wonder at times if we have created a society where common sense isn’t merely uncommon, it should be on a UN Endangered Species list.
A media release from Floriade arrived on my desk last week. It was titled: “Floriade visitors reminded to park legally”.
My first thought was that there must have been a rash of people parking their cars in the flowerbeds, but further reading revealed a more mundane truth, although I had momentary hope of excitement when reading the second paragraph: “Parking illegally can be an inconvenience for others and in some cases puts motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in danger”.
DANGER, now you’re talking! My overactive imagination was off and running with thoughts of a legitimate Hollywood blockbuster storyline… tourists staring down illegally parked cars in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic flower show showdown. But no, the actual “reminder” part detailed the various places it is an offence to park – nature strips, footpaths, landscaped areas… all pretty vanilla stuff.
It also included the advice that: “Signs are in place advising motorists not to park on these areas” and a warning that parking inspectors will be on patrol.
So, we’ve reached the point where, as a society, we have signs telling us not to park like morons, but a media release reminding us to read the signs. Signs that more or less tell us not to park like morons.
At the time of writing, I am yet to visit this year’s Floriade; so I can’t comment on the quality of the signs, but as there are rules and regulations for such things, I assume they’re plentiful and pretty easy to read. They may even say something like (beware, difficult concept coming up): NO PARKING.
Regardless of the actual wording, I imagine they’re pretty brief reading. So what makes anyone think a person who can’t be bothered to read a sign consisting of a handful of words is going to be more inclined towards reading sentences and paragraphs going into considerably more detail?
It’s like when you’re driving in NSW and there’s a mobile speed camera ahead. They make the ACT’s massive white camera vans with the signs on top look decidedly camouflaged.
You get a warning 250 metres before you get to the camera. You get a secondary warning 50 metres short. And then, in case you’ve missed those, you pass another sign 50 metres after your speeding vehicle has been snapped telling you your speed has been checked. Yet people are still booked. In their thousands.
I know plenty of people who’ve been pinged by these. “If only they’d warned me,” is by far their most common response.
Alas, poor common sense, I knew him briefly.
Chris Coleman is 2CC’s drive announcer