“You Can’t See the Wood for the Yellowy Nylon”: A Fluorescent Jacket Too Far…

Is it just me or are there far too many fluorescent jackets everywhere you go? I work part-time in a primary school and whenever we take the kids out on a trip they all have to be wearing that most beloved of health and safety uniforms.

First of all, why on earth they need to wear these in broad daylight completely escapes me. I remember when I was in school and we went on all kinds of trips through the woods, the city, the dungeon and we got on just fine without any fluorescent jackets at all!

article-2335617-1A259C26000005DC-646_964x541I’m told it’s so that drivers can see the kids near the road more easily.

Well excuse me for sounding a little cynical here, but I think that any driver careless or short-sighted enough to miss a line of 30 or so children crossing the road (and not slow down accordingly) is probably careless or short-sighted enough to miss a fluorescent jacket as well. There. I said it.

“But why take the risk eh Rowan?” you say. “Why take the risk when it would be just as easy to put on the jacket, put on the jacket and avoid all the doubt”.

Because: “oh dear, I bet that wouldn’t have happened if they were wearing a fluorescent jacket” sounds so much worse than: “well.. they were wearing a fluorescent jacket… there’s nothing more anyone could have done here is there!?”

But it isn’t just school children though is it? Since the 90’s all kinds of officials like policemen, electricians, postmen, gasmen, council workers, builders (pretty much every official who has to walk the street) now wears a fluorescent jacket don’t they?

It seems the logic here isn’t about safety but authority. “Look at me! I’m an important person!” shouts the self-righteous luminous jacket, with its magical glowing properties: far superior to any of your pathetic, regular fabrics with their lack of ability to reflect light. “BOW DOWN BEFORE ME!!”

safety-jacket300x350-ad-fAnd cyclists use them as well don’t they? To show the motorists that they’re there, while motorists use them now during breakdowns as well. It’s actually law in some European countries to carry a fluorescent jacket in the car all the time, if you don’t you can be fined!

Whatever happened to faith in the good old-fashioned light, that’s what I want to know! The car light? The bike light? The street light? Remember those? They did the same job! Except they created light instead of reflecting it!!

“Well its OK for you to poke fun Rowan!” I hear you retort, “having never been in a serious accident in your life. People are doing this for the benefit of themselves and their families and you’re mocking it! With your big mocking face! I hope you die!”

Well I can let the school trips slide.. and the cyclists, the motorists.. and the officials at a push. But today I saw something that went right over the line and crossed into sheer absurdity.

I saw a man. Walking his dog. In a residential area. In broad daylight. And him and the dog, WERE BOTH WEARING FLUORESCENT JACKETS!

dog in fluorNow I’m sorry but this is just too far! What’s next? Jackets for cats as well? Might as well go the whole hog and start sticking them on wildlife too! Pigeons and badgers all lit up in various techno-colours because “YOU NEVER CAN BE TOO SAFE CAN YOU!?”

So let’s get this straight. The pedestrians and the dogs are wearing the jackets for the motorists and the cyclists to see right? The public servants and the officials are wearing them for the public in general, while the motorists and cyclists are wearing them for the other motorists and cyclists.

So the message here seems to be: “Here! Everyone! Look out for everyone! All of the time”… which seems to dilute the whole point of anyone wearing them in the first place!!

It reminds me of an anecdote from my time doing A Level history. I looked at another student’s exercise book and noticed they’d highlighted every line, bar a few connectives like ‘the’, with a yellow highlighter pen.

“But how are you going to know which bits are the most important?” I asked.
“Oh, I’ll just remember all of it” she replied vacantly.

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