A poor choice of color

Recently, during one of our periods of frigid weather, I was bundled up and driving when I noticed my emergency lights were flashing. Looking everywhere for signs and knobs, I could not locate where to turn off those lights.

Fortunately, a few blocks ahead was a car dealer and, once there, a helpful salesman came out to my car and turned off the lights, saying on the dashboard was a red triangle outlined with thin red lines. I had never spotted it. My dashboard, to me, was a solid dark color.

I was born with a birth defect; I cannot perceive color the way most of you can, especially reds and greens, which is an affliction bothering roughly 10 percent of all adult men who drive cars. I once drove at the speed limit through a four-way stop at the intersection of two state highways surrounded on at least three sides by cornfields. When the horror-stricken other three in the car asked if I hadn’t seen the stop sign, I’m guessing the correct answer would have been “no!”

As a federally licensed bird bander, a male cardinal in my hands is conspicuous, but in the shrubbery at the back of my yard he is just a dark bird and, unless he raised his crest, I couldn’t tell you he was a cardinal. In our state, deer hunters must wear a blaze color in the woods because the DNR determined that 10 percent of male hunters in the woods couldn’t see the traditional red-checkered jackets hunters used to wear. For safety reasons it is now illegal to not wear those fluorescent colors, which allows deer hunters to be easily seen by others.

Yet stop signs are still traditionally red. My students would have asked, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

August Wirkus

Eau Claire