A couple of things happened while I was away

And I’m not referring to any of the local and family tidbits my mum shared with me while I was on the road.

Window signs
There's not really room for three of these LCD signs in this Ascot Vale shopfront.

There are two things I saw while in America that made me think to myself “Look at that. I’m glad we don’t have that in Australia!” It wasn’t banking related, or anything nearly as important as healthcare. But they were:

  1. Family stickers on cars that include all family members, pets and the kitchen sink
  2. Flashing LCD signs in store windows saying “Open”

Every time I saw one of these things I would have a slight inwards gloat that we wouldn’t be that cheesy back home.

So you can imagine my surprise, my disgust and my feeling of foolishness when those two things haven’t just taken America by storm but Australia too.

I think the first time I saw a car back home with a family sticker emblazoned on it, I actually said “Nooo” aloud in disbelief. I struggle comprehend why people feel the need to display their whole family, cartoon style, on their vehicles. I guess we’ve moved beyond “Baby on Board” signs and bumper stickers telling people to back off if they can read it. Do we blame Facebook for this? Are people wanting to extend beyond their online social network and instead post about themselves and their family in a moving billboard style? I’m not sure what to think, I can only shake my head.

I justified the flashing LCD open signs in the US when I realised that this would be helpful for people during a snowstorm. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder leaving a light in the window to help Pa find his way home in a blizzard in the Little House on the Prairie books. However that logic does not apply to Australia where there are really only a handful or two of towns above the snowline. Here these signs are just tacky attention grabbers from DIY marketers.

To remind myself that yes, I am really back in Australia, I have indulged in sausage rolls, meat pies, pavlovas, Vegemite and regularly catch the tram.

Everything is bigger in Texas

…. except the welcome signs.

As I was driving along the I-40 highway (major interstate freeway) from New Mexico to Texas, I started getting excited about what the Welcome to Texas sign would say. New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment signs were cool, as were the Utah – Life Elevated ones.

I expected big and brashy. Maybe a Stetson shaped sign like the Arby’s chain restaurant has. Maybe a big cow cut-out like those that adorn the hills of Spain. Or a giant oil well with neon letters spelling out the greeting.

But no. It was a no-frills, ordinary looking green highway sign that didn’t match up to the Texan reputation.

I-40 Welcome to Texas sign
I-40 Welcome to Texas sign - from http://www.teresco.org