Thursday, July 1, 2010

Iv'e Been Thinking - Cones, The Silent Invasion

I was driving homeward on my usual route when all of a sudden the road ahead had turned from its normal tree lined aspect to a blur of orange and white. Netherlands supporters I thought, a riot of blazing orange traffic cones, had assaulted my space and offended my sensitivities. Where do they come from?

They littered the roadside just as a dog would shake its wet coat in every direction. Then I got to thinking about this most used and abused icon of the world’s highways and byways.

Did you realize that the first traffic cone appeared in New York in 1914 and attributed to Charles P Rudabaker. His first design was made in concrete. Since then the humble cone has infested roadways and marshaled drivers from every Nation around the world. No one knows the population of these cones nor the numbers produced each year. We do know that Taiwan and China pump out a million each month @ $10 each. The University of Texas buys 600 per year and drunks world-wide, gather them on returning home from the pub.

Cone removal (let’s not say stealing) is part of the unwritten core curriculum @ every University around the world and there is almost a written rule that requires their placement in the most amusing of situations. In Auckland a cone even appeared atop the Sky Tower, (our tallest Building). Apparently the most popular spot in Scotland is on the head of the statue of the Duke of Wellington outside the Gallery of Modern Art museum in Glasgow, and sightings have been recorded on most iconic buildings, statues and in trees. In fact I can attribute to personally rescuing many a lonely cone from the chill of a winter’s night, into the warmth and safety of my home, only to see it evicted in the morning (along with myself).

There is even a society for the preservation of cones and a Guinness book of records for the most collected cones, (Englishman of course) and although the most popular colour is Orange, the colours are limitless as are the materials used in their manufacture. The traffic cone was voted 839th of 1160 nominations as Icons of Britain. How much do you know about the humble cone? Take the online survey. There are web pages to the Appreciation of Cones, Blogs and Commentaries , Cone Art, Cone Liberation Organization , Cones as Pets , Cone Conspiracy , Cones of Literacy, Adopt a Cone, and even Cone Marriage.

Well I got to thinking and here’s the gut’s of it!

1. Have you ever rescued a cone?

2. Where is the remotest place you have seen a cone?

3. Next time you see a lonely cone, why not take a picture and make a Kodak moment, after all, cones dedicate their life to our safety and well-being. For sure, they will be around long after wev'e gone! Maybe you could send me some interesting pictures of "Cone Invasion."

Thanks to Lori O'Conel, who actually took the time to pen this ode to a cone

O stalwart shield of the careless and rash
Egyptians of old built cone temples for you
Orange Angel, you stand, constant and true
Your sacrifice diverting each fatal crash.

What divine hand shaped your perfect form?
What gods stole your color from the sun's rays,
Infused it into that primordial clay
And kissed it to life with the breath of a storm?

How many pass by, never knowing that they
Are sheltered beneath your wings of gold,
Kept safe from the clutches of Death so cold.
But thankless, unmoving, and faithful you stay.

O Sentinel, your spirit no human could tame
Without you, our roads would ne'er be the same.

-Lori O'Conel