Why Everyone Wants to Walk on Your Lawn

800px-Please_keep_off_the_grass,_Great_Court,_Trinity_College,_Cambridge
This isn’t the same patch of grass, but it’s a great illustration.

It was an ordinary patch of grass, but as soon as I read the sign asking passersby not to walk on it I felt a sudden urge to take off my shoes and socks and run around in circles.

One of the few advantages of maintaining a field of something that cannot be eaten, worn, or sold for profit is that it’s an ideal place to spread out a picnic blanket, sunbathe, fly a kite, or play frisbee.

I was going to add picking dandelions to that list as well, but this particular patch of grass was sadly flower deficient.

I’m sure the people who maintain the grass and paid for the sign had good intentions. The lawn might have been recently sprayed with pesticides, or there could be gopher holes that have caused other pedestrians to sprain their ankles.

Maybe they don’t want their grass to be trampled, or they’d rather not have to pick up after irresponsible pet owners. Or maybe that little, unassuming patch of grass is actually an ancient portal to fairyland.

In any case, reading the sign made me want to do the exact opposite of what I’d been instructed. It’s human nature to balk at rules that don’t make sense or serve a useful purpose.  Several years ago this was actually my response to an even more authoritarian sign that ordered us to keep off of a different lawn. I only touched one toe in the forbidden zone in quiet protest of a nonsensical rule.*

If they wanted to dissuade visitors they could have planted a row of hedges or built a little fence around the perimeter of the park. Either one of those options would communicate the same message without erecting an unfriendly sign or making me want to disobey it.

*Yeah, it’s probably good that I’ll never have children. They no doubt would have inherited my contrary streak.

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