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The Inglis Home Appliances sign seen from the westbound Gardiner Expressway (2004 file photo) (Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail)
The Inglis Home Appliances sign seen from the westbound Gardiner Expressway (2004 file photo) (Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail)

Road Sage

No more clichés on the Gardiner: The iconic Inglis billboard is gone Add to ...

Perhaps they realized its mission – to cheer up commuters – had become impossible. Perhaps condo residents, enraged by its glowing optimism, finally got rid of it. Perhaps they simply ran out of aphorisms. Whatever the reasons, the Inglis Home Appliance sign, which since 1975 has both puzzled and amused motorists with slogans such as “Live while you are alive,” is gone. It was taken down from its home along the Gardiner Expressway at Strachan Avenue in Toronto a few weeks back, after its contract ran out.

The disappearance of the Inglis sign was a bittersweet ending for most motorists. Who had not looked up at its hollow self-help exhortations and wondered, “Who writes this stuff?” Perhaps we were just one empty encouragement away from enlightenment? We’ll never know. So many slogans left unslung. So many platitudes left unflung.

The idea that drivers would be uplifted by neon mottos has its origins in a more innocent time. The people who created the sign no doubt imagined thousands of optimistic motorists glancing up as they sped into the city, but that dream eventually turned into a reality in which drivers sat in traffic like lab rats and glowered up at its asinine sayings.

New signs have taken its place. For instance, there’s now a Smirnoff “Ice Your Beer” ad that suggests you should pour a vodka drink into your beer. The slogan is, “Feels Wrong. Tastes Right.” In 1975, pouring vodka into beer was called spiking someone’s drink and its slogan would have been “Feels Wrong. Is Wrong.”

Progress.

So, did you pay attention to the Inglis sign? If not, how optimistic a person are you? See if you can pick the real Inglis sign mottos from the fake.

1. In this world nothing is certain except death, and more death.

2. If your other car is a Porsche, why are you driving that one?

3. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. And some stare at glib, condescending neon signs.

4. Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago, but mostly because God created trees.

5. Growing old is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the old.

6. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. “Chance” is a recurring character who was cut out of True Blood.

7. Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. Opportunity is a matter of preparation meeting luck.

8. Winning isn’t everything, it’s just preferable to losing, especially in war.

9. No day in which you learn something is a complete loss. Except a day you black out in class.

10. To reach the fruit, one must go out on a limb.

11. The slave is always for freedom.

12. What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?

13. Happy is he who can trace effects to their causes.

14. Driving a minivan says, “I’m easily aroused and I fail to think things through.”

15. Be not hasty to envy the condition of others. Ease into your envy like a warm comforting bath.

16. It was a wise man who did not buy a condo facing this sign.

17. It’s not wasted time if you’re wasted.

18. Yesterday will never come again, but you have today.

19. I told you yesterday that you had today. Do we keep having to go over and over this?

20. Get over it.

Answers: 6, 7, 9 and 10 and 18 are all real Inglis slogans (though tweaked). 12 is a bumper sticker. Everything else is fake.

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