Monday, May 3, 2010

Tractors, Bugles, and Warning "Signs"

I was going to write a post about the strange “prohibit" signs I've seen here. The illustrations on  many of them range from puzzling to frightening to humorous to "someone actually got paid to design this?"

However, recently I was forced to eat a piece of humble pie...or humble duck neck or whatever it's called in China (they don't have pie here).

First, look at one of the signs I came across:

This sign is right outside of the campus. I don't think I need to point out what's strange about it. What's even more interesting is that there are multiple signs around campus just showing the tractor. This is no isolated incident.

My first thought was "Is this really a tractor?" I've never seen a tractor in China, let alone on campus. Maybe that means the sign is working. Or maybe it's representative of something else. But what? General four-wheeled vehicles? "Work" vehicles? This sign falls into the perplexing/humorous category.

But as I was walking around on campus the other day, I saw something strange hidden behind a mess of trees and bushes. When I worked my way back there this is what I found:

No way! Impossible! I don't believe it! Can it be?!

Behold, a 100% genuine...tractor? I'm still not sure what it is, but it looks exactly like the image on the sign. Since I grew up in Kansas I've only seen tractors doing work on farms, but perhaps they use them in cities, too.

It's entirely possible that most of you are yelling at me through your computer telling me how ignorant I am. Maybe everyone else knows exactly what this is and what it does. In that case, I'm ready to eat another piece of humble duck neck. It doesn't taste that bad once you get used to it. 

This thing clearly hasn't been used in a long time.

It was covered with rust and spider webs, not to mention all of the critters that call this lovely place home.

The interior is top-of-the-line. It even includes a tin-can cup holder seamlessly welded next to the broken speedometer.

So what did I learn from this experience? I'm still trying to process it. I think I will withhold judgment -- at least for a longer period -- when I see seemingly ridiculous things here. There might just be something to them after all. I don't know everything...

...except this. I am sure that this sign is merely symbolic:

There is no way these people would actually try to ban bugles. No one plays bugles around here. That would be ridiculous. Surely this just means "no car horns."


Two weeks ago when I was walking back to my dorm I walked past two children walking, laughing, and...

...playing bugles. Not even trumpets. Two beat-up and tarnished bugles.

Maybe I should just stop making judgments and assumptions altogether.

1 comment:

  1. Brent, this is hilarious! I did find a link for you that shows what these signs mean in China:

    The horn one means: "Horn tooting not permitted." Now, whether that means bugles or vehicles, I do not know. Good thing you didn't take your saxophone with you! You were right about the "No tractors allowed" sign.