The Tangible Sign

A true story about the humour of the universe

car parkSome years ago, I arrived for work as usual and sat down at my computer, catching a quick glance through my window to the buildings and trees at the other side of the car park. After only a short time had passed, I became aware that a workman had arrived and was outside my window. A moment later, he began digging at the ground. My first thought was that he was looking for a drain or a cable. Suddenly a big van arrived, parking just beyond the window towards the main entrance of the building. The rear doors were flung open and lying inside was a very large and very posh, direction sign, complete with its own map of the university campus. A second hole was now being dug by another workman. It began to dawn on me that the sign was to be placed right in front of my window!

signWith utter incredulity, I went to fetch my manager. He followed me back and looked with bemused disbelief at the now erected, huge sign, blocking the view. He then left to phone the Estates office.

Suddenly, my partner, Lisa, appeared on my instant messenger, so I began typing to her what was occurring. At this point, I realised the sign was so tall I couldn’t see the top of it and mentioned this new fact.

”I’ll try and concentrate and maybe we can get them to take it down.” She encouraged.

signAfter only a few minutes, the sign was lifted from its holes and laid on its side. “They’ve taken it down.” I typed with relief. But moments later, there was a loud noise and I realised an angle grinder was causing sparks to fly, visible through another side window. “They’re cutting off 2 feet from the legs!” I typed. Having accomplished this alteration, and to my crestfallen disappointment, the workmen hoisted up the sign with a flourish and dropped it back in place. I reported this to Lisa, and added that I could now see the top of the sign.

The Estates manager appeared with my boss outside and I quickly went to join them. He seemed to think it somewhat amusing and smugly pointed out that the planning and location had been approved almost a year earlier. I continued to point out the stupidity of blocking a window when there was adequate wall space either side – but to no avail. I also argued that no one had thought to consult me regarding its chosen location. Within the hour, concrete had been poured and the waste soil placed in bags, like flowers around a grave.

signI took a number of photographs and wrote a letter of complaint to the Vice Chancellor. I moaned and griped about the sign for the rest of the day and eventually got home at 6 pm – still in an incredulous mood.

Lisa was in the kitchen. I continued my tirade and was still bemoaning the state of affairs and by now had decided the universe was obviously against me and added to Lisa that it was particularly unjust, as I’d even asked the universe for help and to give me some indication there was a point to my life! I stopped in my tracks.

“Oh!” I whispered… “I’ve just realised what’s happened.” I started to laugh. “I think it’s my fault. Yesterday morning, when I was in the office alone and feeling a bit low, I mentioned out loud to the universe that what I needed was some evidence that there was more to life than the experience I was living.” Lisa looked at me and asked slowly… “What exactly did you say?” I thought for a moment and began to feel rather sheepish and started laughing again. “I said, ‘what I really need is a tangible sign’.” We both burst into laughter and couldn’t stop the tears rolling down our cheeks!

For the next hour we laughed and parodied the experience with comments like: ‘You can’t get more tangible than a big f**k-off sign blocking your view!’ and ‘Given the biggest bloody sign, and I still couldn’t see it!’

This event in my life not only proved to me that the universe does listen, but that it also has a great sense of humour. Furthermore, if you ask for something, recognise it when it appears in your life and be grateful in acknowledging the feedback.

Another Tangible Sign

I had moved back to Yorkshire after 12 years working away. Some close friends offered me their old house to rent. Previously for sale, but the last person interested having pulled out, it seemed a perfect solution to help me re-establish myself.

gardenThe odd thing for me, was that unlike previous situations, I couldn’t recall visualising that I would ever live in this house. In hindsight, I remember when I first saw the house, I possibly thought ‘how fortunate my friend is to be living here.’ Anyway, I liked the house and I particularly liked the conservatory and garden.

I had moved in around February, and it wasn’t long before the neighbour who had previously tried to buy the house, questioned me as to who I was. Although I explained I was a friend who was just renting, it was obviously a concern that the house may fall into other hands. Consequently, towards the end of May, and despite not being on the market, the neighbour phoned my friend and once again offered to buy the property.



Suddenly, things changed very quickly…

Sign - there seemed nothing that I could do about this at the time, I realised that I would have to move out by the end of July. Lisa and my daughter had come for a visit and we were just talking in the lounge about this, that, and the other, when I mentioned the tangible sign incident in relation to something that was said. Although I only whispered the connection, Lisa was quick to remind me to be careful and we moved onto another subject.

The following afternoon, a friend came around to see us and I told him the story of the Tangible Sign. After about an hour, I was just seeing him out, when I noticed a man hovering around a van. Suddenly, his head came up to the fence and he asked cheerfully: “Where do you want your sign?” At which point he raised an arm holding a long wooden pole with a ‘Sold’ board attached.

My friend just laughed. When I returned to the lounge and told Lisa, although I was crestfallen about the house actually being sold, we had to laugh too!

‘Typical!’, I exclaimed. ‘Last time I had no say in where my sign was going to go! Now I’ve actually been asked where I want it putting!’


Trues stories by Richard Gentle

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