The signs read: “Caution: Laser in Use.”
Taped in random places along the fence that divides students from the Bearkat Plaza construction area, these signs (I counted six to be exact) caught my eye as I walked to my class in the Lee Drain Building.
Now, I am not usually one to panic about these type of things, but should I be concerned when I read a sign that says “Caution: Laser in Use?” Will days of me walking by this area cause my eyes to bulge or my hands to turn green or worse? Maybe the doctor was wrong when he diagnosed my sore throat this week as allergies.
If these signs are a valid warning, then it was probably not the best idea to separate the laser from the campus using only a metal, chain-link fence from ‘National Rent-a-Fence.’ And it was probably not the best idea to casually inform students of the laser’s presence with six laminated sheets of 8 x 11 Xerox paper.
On the other hand, if I should not be worried or if there is absolutely no way that this laser could harm me, then why bother posting the sign? That is like me wearing a sign around my neck that says: “Caution: Legs in Use.” It is quite possible that my legs could suddenly kick you if you get in my way, but for the most part, they stay in stride with the rest of my body.
Or here is another one: “Caution: Pine trees have needles.” The word needle conjugates all sorts of scary images, but pine needles pose little threat to humans. It is not common for one of those little pine needles to get unexpectedly lodged in your eye.
I took it upon myself to do some light “investigative journalism” into this matter. Without much thought, I approached two construction workers in the fenced area after class. The two men were sitting on a brick bench inside the work area eating their lunch.
“Do you know why there are signs posted cautioning us about a laser being in use?” I asked them, trying to appear non-challant, like I ask people about lasers all the time.
After a long moment of silence – I think they were shocked that someone from the outside of the fence was talking to them – one of them answered, “Beats me.”
“Do you guys use lasers?” I asked.
“No,” they said simultaneously.
“Maybe the signs are there to keep students out of this area,” one of the men offered. At this, I said thanks and walked on to my next class.
But, after thinking about their answer for a while, I realized again, that if the purpose of the signs was to deter students, this was probably not the best idea. College students swarm to lasers; they think they are neat. I can practically hear them; “What? There is a laser in use? I want to play.” Star Wars geeks, especially, would flock to the area to look for something like a light saber.
Really, if you are trying to deter college students, you have to think outside the box. Any signs that include the words “laser,” “flesh-eating,” “explosive,” or “free” are sure-fire ways to get your stuff jacked with. College kids eat that kind of stuff up.
Try something softer and the students will move on. No college kid would mess with an area with signs that say “Caution: Baby’s Sleeping,” “Caution: Class In Session,” or “Caution: Help Wanted.” It is just a suggestion.
But for now, we have these lasers, and we are unsure of their purpose or their consequences. With that in mind, this may be my last editorial. I don’t fear dying from lasers, but I’ll end it here since there are many things that I want to do before I die.
Disclaimer: This writer does not approve of the use of lasers for recreational purposes.