Like many kids in high school, I chose to decorate my room with a number of street signs, orange pylons, and even a flashing barricade. That last one might not have been so typical, but it was the only item that I actually removed on my own. It only took us fifteen minutes or so to figure out how to open up the lens and twist the bulb to turn it off. There was probably some easier way to turn the thing on and off, but the tools we had made this solution viable. The problem was, we didn't have the Phillips screwdriver in the back of my friend's Ford Bronco. The Ford Bronco that we shoved the flashing barricade into after we picked up our pizza and raced back to my parents' house.
All the way there, my friend kept howling at me to "cover up that light!" Even with my jacket over it, the thing was making photon explosions in his back seat. He was panicking. He didn't need to. When we came down the stairs with our trophy, we were heroes. As the party wore on, we turned off the lights in the basement and danced to the strobe of Public Works.
The barricade became a staple at all of the parties we had in our basement my senior year. It made my parents a little bit crazy, since they had quietly put up with the number placards that used to be on the side of city buses. I never stole any of those. I found them sitting on the side of the road and carried them home. Just like the Stop sign, the one that was sitting in a bush, and had been for weeks when I liberated it. My room was decorated, in part, by things I found on or next to the street. As I said, it made my parents just a little nervous.
The flashing barricade was a new thing, though. It was larceny, plain and simple. It hadn't simply followed me home. It wasn't discarded. As my mother pointed out on more than one occasion, I may have inadvertently caused some poor soul to drive off the road into a ditch by removing the only warning that they had in the dark of night. I felt a twinge of guilt, but not enough to do anything about it.
It was my father who, in a fit of righteous indignation, waited until I had moved out of the house and loaded up all my ill-gotten booty in the back of the family station wagon and drove down the Municipal Building to turn it all over to the proper authorities. He did it at night. He left a nice little pile of city property right in front. I never asked him if he left the barricade flashing. That would have been a nice touch.