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You are now leaving Montgomery County Maryland

This sign has always tickled me.  It stands trailside on the Cap Crescent, and presumably marks the boundary between Maryland and DC.

I never thought through precisely why the sign always amused me.  Until today, that is.

The reason is the word now.

If it read, “You are leaving Montgomery County,” it would be nonplussing.

What a huge difference a simple word makes!

You just know the person who designed that sign put the “now” in there on purpose!  Maybe not for all the reasons that make it funny, but at least for some of them.

“Now” takes a passive occurrence (“by the way, you happen to be crossing into DC now…have a nice day!..”) and transforms it into a deliberate, self-destructive choice:

“You really want to trade the safe, warm shelter of Montgomery County for a creepy, uncertain future in DC?.  You may want to rethiiink that…”

It’s like a legal disclaimer.

The humor is compounded by the physical surroundings.  To reach the sign, you cross a wide concrete bridge that often soaks in sunlight, surrounded by grassy fields.  Then you begin approaching some thick woods and bam….there’s the sign, sentry to a darker stretch of trail.

The sad thing here is that a warm sign from DC (“WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, DC!”) would gainsay the implied danger, and would also serve as the final word on the matter.

But from DC, nary a peep.

I wonder if the person who created the sign gets to see it often.  And if they laugh a little inside each time.

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