Signs of the Times

This street sign, just a few blocks away from where I’m writing today, pinpoints my location better than any GPS tracker. The past three years have been a slow transition from NC’s Piedmont to SC’s Low Country—one gigantic turning away from previous boundaries toward new adventures.

Actual street signs in Beaufort, SC!

Since 2021, once or twice a month, my husband and I have made the four-hour commute from one Carolina to the other. The trip was pretty straightforward; basic highway signage like Interstate markers and exit numbers were enough to guide us there and back.

Interesting fact: depending on how you count, there are between 50 million and 300 million road signs in the U.S. In the not-too-distant future, they will probably all be virtual, invisible bits of code. No need for No U-Turn, Speed Limit 70, or even red octagonal STOPs. EVs will pick up road sign signals from unseen satellites. Here’s another interesting fact: the majority of road signs are made by prisoners, most of whom are incarcerated near Raleigh, NC. (What jobs will they have then?)

Along I-26, at the halfway point of our commute, traffic gets backed up on a regular basis. INJURED? CALL 777-7777 and REPENT NOW/CONFESS YOUR SINS billboards loom large. Tired of the interstate parking lot (and the guilt trip), we took to exploring the back roads.

South of Orangeburg, we blasted through a crossroads peppered with AMMO AMMO AMMO signs along with a folding table on the corner loaded with bullets of various caliber. A few miles past this munitions mecca, a sign pointing the way to Miracle cropped up in the middle of a field. We took that as a sign we were heading in the right direction.

A sign so miraculous, we had to stop and take its picture

Experts say the first road signs are the mile markers at the Appian Way, but I have to believe there were others—Sabertooth Crossing, Fire Safety Seminar This Way.

Regardless, before and after the advent of road signs, travelers relied on stars to show the way. Even today we look heavenward, beseeching the Universe for a sign, asking for proof we’re heading in the right direction.

A few months ago, standing on the precipice, the point of no return, the “Go big or go home” moment, sweating bullets (enough to put me in competition with the AMMO AMMO AMMO enterprise), I asked the Universe for a sign, and it sent this one.

Another sign from the universe

What more proof did I need? I pulled the trigger and launched a new business: WayWord Books. After that, our NC house sold and we loaded a U-haul trailer with a few pieces of furniture and about twenty tons of tomes, introduced our indoor/outdoor cat to apartment living in Port Royal (he is not amused), and set up WayWord Books’ headquarters on Beaufort’s historic Bay Street.

So far, all signs point to success. Old Fort Baptist’s current message is: “Overflow in 2024!” I say, “Amen!” (And also, Please come and visit!)