The line reads simply: THIS IS NORMAL.
…which wouldn’t be important if the preceding advisory didn’t read: HYDRANT BACKS UP OCCASIONALLY. RAW SEWAGE MAY ACCOMPANY GROUND WATER.
Yet it does. Don’t worry though, the sign assures you, this happens on a regular basis. This is normal.
Routinely, a slurry of water and humans waste can be seen to fill the streets near this particular highway overpass. Nothing should be done to prevent it. No repairs or reroutes in the sewage system are necessary. You needn’t write your alderman, council woman, representative, or senator about the fetid mess that rolls slowly into the common space of the city. This is normal.
Don’t do anything to fix this, the sign tells you. Just accept it as part of your life.
The bourbon in you recognizes the secret truth within the cautionary posting, so you stumble forward and look deeper into the red sans serif glyphs.
Try not to interfere with any perceived injustices or wrongdoings you may witness in your day-to-day life. People hurt each other. They steal and rape and lie and kill. This is normal.
You are depressed, and so is everyone else. You will never find fulfillment and you will always look back and be dissatisfied with the path you have chosen. A dark cloud will hang over the flowery thoughts of a life devoid (at least mostly) of suffering and insecurity – the dark cloud of reason. Don’t work to be happy. This is normal.
You take a picture of the sign. Then, you work the signpost back and forth in the stinking mud until the hole around it is sufficiently large and deep that the entire assembly comes free of the earth with a light tug.
You carry the sign with you about a quarter mile to the levee of the Mississippi and toss it in. It won’t be sharing its bullshit with anyone ever again.
You sober up slowly as the sun rises over the west bank, washing over you with its subtle warmth and radiance. You close your eyes and soak in the sensation. You feel right – not great, or fantastic, or fulfilled, or incredibly happy, or justified – but right. You feel in place.
This is normal.