Attention Visitors

Stay Six Feet Apart

I took this picture in Kent’s Mill District yesterday afternoon. Without any context, without any explanation, the sign says, “ATTENTION VISITORS: STAY 6 FEET APART FROM OTHER VISITORS.” One figure seems to represent a woman; the other figure a man, and a two-way arrow is drawn between the two figures, with an extra iteration of “6 FT” above it, for maximum clarity.

For some reason, when I saw this sign I wondered how it might be interpreted by someone stepping out of a Time Machine or a Space Ship, after having landed in one of these parking spots across from Scribbles Coffee Company. It’s really a pretty weird sign, if you think about it. How might one interpret it without any context clues?

Having lived in Kent for the last three and a half years, I understand the back-story of this sign. I know that it goes back to the days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when the world was quite uncertain and insecure about the spread of the virus. The City of Kent did its best to set expectations for how the community would deal with the uncertainty and insecurity. And I seem to remember feeling grateful for their efforts at the time.

But now that some time has passed, it’s kind of funny that the sign remains with such a vague message to visitors. I’m glad that it all feels like such a distant memory this Fall. Still, I know that we all carry similar vestiges from those days in our hearts. They don’t all make sense in the present context. But they’re still there and may remain there for some time to come.

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