119. Thwarting Trespassers and Other Ne’er-Do-Wells

16 Jan

il_570xN.407404899_olfiDriving around Seattle the other day, a wave of nostalgia washed over me when I spotted someone’s front door decorated with a black sign featuring large red letters that said: POSTED. NO TRESPASSING. Shame on me. After a decade of living in a land where the sternest warning to strangers usually runs along the lines of “No Soliciting,” I’d forgotten these existed. But it all comes rushing back.

When I was a kid, I’d see “No Trespassing” signs all over the place. Mostly on chain-link fences or nailed to trees near the entrance to a roped-off dirt road. Places I wouldn’t even be tempted to visit had I not been shunned in all caps with bold type. I believe the signs are mostly used to keep hunters and fishers from poaching on one’s land, but if they scare off evangelicals intent on passing out bible tracts, all the better.3873449800_850c9492f4_m

I understand the desire to keep one’s private property private (teen journals, anyone?), but why must the signs be so redundant? I mean, if you’re reading the sign, it’s because someone posted it. So do we really need the word “POSTED”? That would be like me starting each blog post shouting “WRITTEN!”

Then after the no trespassing bit, they’ll tack on “KEEP OUT.” Just in case one isn’t familiar with words featuring more than four or five letters. Come on, people, if you can’t trust your audience, save everybody some time and skip right to the dumbed-down version.

My favorite trespassing sign comes from a Winnie the Pooh story involving Piglet:

“Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: “TRESPASSERS W” on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather’s name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn’t be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one—Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.”

I suspect Piglet may have had roots in the South.

il_570xN.365445469_djrkThe types of trespass-discouraging tactics are as varied as the array of guns that are prepared to enforce them. From hi-tech security cameras and motion-detecting sprinklers to padlocked gates and strategically placed barbed wire. Also, dogs. Big, mean dogs. Think Cujo, not Lassie.

Word of advice: if you’re driving around an unfamiliar area, pay close attention to any and all warning signs unless you want to find yourself at the business end of a shotgun. I’m not hyperbolizing, y’all. I speak from experience.no trespassing sign

One night, my sister and I made a wrong turn on the way to a Christmas party and were greeted by two shotgun-toting rednecks who wanted to know where we were headed. (It probably didn’t help matters that we’d accidentally driven through their yard, but still. It was dark and the landscaper had gone with sort of a mud motif…)

Redneck #1: “Where y’all think you’re goin?”

Us: “We’re looking for Scott’s house.”

Redneck #2: “Scott who?”

Us: Uh…(I should mention that our friend Karen had only recently taken up with Scott and we couldn’t recall his last name.)

Redneck #1: “Scott W______?”

Us: “Yes!”

Redneck #2: “You’re gonna turn around and make a left and then take a right at the house with the ‘deaf kid’ sign.”

Us: “Thank you!” (For asking questions first and determining that shooting was not necessary. And also for the directions.)

Rednecks: “STAY OFF THE YARD!”

There may have been more advice, but we didn’t stick around to hear it.

Have you ever posted a “No Trespassing” sign or disregarded one (accidentally or otherwise)? Please do tell!

Photo Credits: “Keep Out” poster by Urban Design Ink available here; “Posted” sign by Nate Weigle, Flickr Creative Commons; “Bait” by Signs from the South available here; Toddler trespassing poster available at ismoyo’s Etsy store.

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6 Responses to “119. Thwarting Trespassers and Other Ne’er-Do-Wells”

  1. Kat Bar January 16, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    YES! I was just thinking about these signs the other day…how odd you did too. I recall as a kid, who lived in the country, we’d go exploring, and crawl over barbed-wire fences with rusty signs saying – NO TRESPASSING – VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT ON SITE. We didn’t flench! So many of them around, you never gave it a thought. Kind of like rural fence decor.

    I have posted a no trespassing sign when I owed a house with a pool that back up to common corp of engineer-owned land. I “heard” it was required as a protection from law suits should a child decide to climb the fence and drown. All the signs in the world wouldn’t make that better.

    • Kim Holloway January 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

      oh, yes, there are many times as a kid when I was in danger of being “shot on site.”

  2. Tori Nelson January 17, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Angry property signs are par for the course in Tennessee. I like the particularly grumpy ones that are posted next to ten different DOG BITES signs.

    • Kim Holloway January 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Yep, there are apparently a whole lot of angry dogs in the south. Probably because they’re left outside in the summer while the cats and hampsters enjoy air conditioning.

  3. vintageyall February 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Thought you might want to see this sign I just got in a news feed from a vintage shop. It just came through and I thought of this post! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=506828996036374&set=a.183856961666914.73468.178493415536602&type=1&theater

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      Hilarious! Love it! Thanks for sharing.

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