On Saturday, my friend Margaret and I stopped at a rest stop on our way back from Chattanooga for a friend’s wedding. I was following her into the building-very slowly, because that’s how I walk in high heels- when she stopped suddenly. “Oh no,” she wailed.
Rain falling on my head, I glanced around her to see that a large sign announced the bathroom was closed for cleaning. Disconsolate, we stood staring at that sign for several more seconds. Then a man sitting under the eave growled, “There’s another bathroom in there.”
Maybe it was the fact that we were coming down from the emotional high of seeing our friend get her happy-ever-after. Maybe the sugar rush from eating pieces of both the bride’s and groom’s cakes had done something to our problem solving ability. But for some reason, two intelligent women with traveling experience were stymied by a sign at an I24 rest stop.
But it happens:
- A friend’s wife attended a famous writing workshop. She was treated brusquely by one of the instructors and, as far as I know, never sent her poems out again.
- When I was in college, many students gave up on their premed programs after failing their first chemistry exam.
Of course, we should pay attention to signs. But we also should pay attention to their multiple meanings.
Just like our sign didn’t mention there was another bathroom,
- The poet may have been in a bad mood. He may have been a lousy teacher. Or he may have liked the next poem.
- The premed students could have used the test as a sign that they needed to study harder, not that they needed to change majors.
We owe it to ourselves to keep looking.