Friday, February 12, 2010

Smoke! Fire!

I received an e-mail from a reader the other day that made me laugh out loud. This reader is from the west coast and had just finished a photo shoot close to where I live, and after the shoot she and her colleagues came across a bit of a conundrum. Being the giver of wisdom that I am (ha, ha), she decided to ask me for some clarity. Here you go:

When the shoot was over and we were driving through Oklahoma to the airport we saw multiple signs that said something like "do not drive into the smoke". We were really curious what this meant...where does the smoke come from? Obviously it happens often enough to have a permanent sign on the freeway. If there is smoke, do you just have to pull over on the side of the freeway until it goes away? We were perplexed, and of course forgot to ask anyone while we were still there. I'm sure you are busy so thanks in advance if you take the time to answer this :)

My response:

Do not drive into smoke. Yes. I've seen a sign like that once AND yes, I've actually driven through smoke. I know that the roads in Oklahoma have undergone some pretty hardcore construction lately, so my only guess is that this elusive smoke would be a byproduct of much-needed road repair. When I was visiting my boyfriend (now husband) in college, I drove from Arkansas to Oklahoma and sure enough, due to some road construction, there was a ton of smoke pouring across the highway. I drove through it. It was stupid, given that there is zero visibility with smoke, but really. The option of pulling over and waiting for the construction to be done would mean that I would still be sitting on the side of the road today.

I guess I broke the rules.

That's the best answer I've got. I hope it will suffice!


Okay. After reading her e-mail again, I decided to go to the Place of Never-Ending Useless Wisdom: Teh Internets. According to some random site that I will not link to because I did not like the content on the site other than the fact that it did address the issue of smoke signs in Oklahoma (PHEW RUN-ON SENTENCE): Apparently, a farmer was burning some fields one day close to the highway, cars drove through the smoke, and a large pile-up quickly ensued. Hence, do not drive into smoke. Or burn fields close to highways, for that matter.

And, of course, the ever-obvious conclusion that Where There is Smoke, There is Fire.

I'm not sure if I believe that story. Because I actually drove through smoke in Oklahoma and it was due to road construction. I mean, COME ON.

Okay. Firstly, can any true Oklahomans out there validate the farmer story? Secondly, I'll go ahead and open this up for you to tell me the dumbest signs you've ever seen. Because while the story of a pile-up is not in and of itself funny, the idea that a permanent road sign should be placed along the highway because of it, is. They might as well add "Use Blinker When Changing Lanes" signs, too.

Have a lovely day!


  1. my vote is for the fire, not the road construction. as i was born and raised in oklahoma, all it takes is a bit of a dry spell and the side of the highway goes up in flames. i have seen smoke, burn out grass and flames many times on road trips through the state. i am inclined to believe the farmer story as well. so, there is my two cents :)

  2. Yup. It's because of the frequency of grass fires in Oklahoma, both of natural causes and man-made (read farmers or idiots throwing cigarettes out of car windows, which I have witnessed).

  3. Maybe one of the construction workers lit a cigarette and threw it on the ground ... hence the smoke I had to drive through! Then it would be BOTH! :)

  4. Lol. Katie. Your reply made me laugh out loud. I love it.

    I'm fairly sure these signs are due to grass fires that tend to erupt off the highway in the summer (and spring and fall). Obviously one would not want to drive into the smoke because one would then die of smoke inhalation WHILE driving. Not very pleasant.

    While I haven't wondered what the smoke is caused by, I HAVE always wondered what we are supposed to do when we encounter it. Do we turn around and drive the wrong way on the highway? Stop? What if the smoke, then, overtakes us? It's such a mystery to me.

  5. I hate to admit this, but I always thought the sign was for semi-truck or big truck smoke...never considered grass fires.

  6. ok.. so dumbest road signs..
    "Do not pick up hitchhikers, they may be escaped convicts"
    Also seen in OK. (springtown)
    Thought that was pretty funny too.