The Great Divide: A Question of Color


For many years now, there has been a huge rift within our family, caused by traffic lights. T and I are in permanent disagreement and our son B is pretty firmly on my side. R is undecided, but I’m convinced she will see the light (I couldn’t resist)  in due time.

When I lived in Australia in the sixties, the traffic lights were called green, orange and red. Orange. Because they are orange. Just look at the picture on the left. It’s even more orange than a Florida orange.

However, my sweet but American husband T is convinced the orange light is yellow. He’s wrong, of course, but he learned in school that the lights are green, yellow and red, and it has affected his color perception. He can call the orange light yellow all he wants–it’s still orange.

B, who knows on which side his bread is buttered, or rather who butters it, agrees that it is clearly orange.

R is torn and I’m worried that she will need therapy later on in life. She’s in serious denial. She refuses to see the truth, which is that the light is orange, and instead she claims that she can’t decide. What’s really going on, of course, is that she’s afraid to hurt either one of her parents.

So the other day we were on a family walk in the middle of nowhere, following a path along a serene but totally dry creek, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and traffic, so naturally someone started up the Orange Light Argument again.

Again, R was in agony. B, helpful as always, pointed out that Daddy would still love her just as much even if she admitted that the light is orange. And I added that I would even love her more. But she still wouldn’t give up her neutrality.

None of this is anything new. But then B said, “I can’t believe you don’t see that the light is orange. Just like I can’t believe you can’t see that Daddy’s hair is black.” Well . . . T’s hair isn’t black–it’s dark brown. So the credibility of my only ally is now out the window. He’s clearly colorblind.

B’s still firmly in my camp, but not necessarily because he can actually tell the difference between orange and yellow. I do appreciate him trusting in my perpetual rightness, but it does change matters somewhat. The burden is now even more on R, because B is only half a help. I feel for the girl, I really do, but it’s about time she sees sense . . . and orange lights.

So what do you think? Take another good look at the picture to the right before taking the poll.

19 responses to “The Great Divide: A Question of Color

  1. It’s only orange when it’s changing to red while you are driving through the intersection.


  2. How about amber?


  3. Are Aussie lights different from American ones?


  4. Marie-Jacqueline

    You are the shining beaken of the orange traffic light.
    It is correct!

    I don’t know if you remember the Dutch tv-programm “Willem Wever”.
    Children could send in all kinds of questions.
    In the show they got the answer to their question.
    Some child asked why the trafficlights have the colour red-orange-green.

    The answer was as followed:
    The origin of this colour combination finds its origin in the railroad.
    About 1830 they started railroadtracks.
    (I suspect it must be in Great-Brittian because they had the first train).
    It became clear that some sort of coloursignals were needed, to prevent trains colliding

    As stop-colour they chose green.
    As ride-colour white.
    Soon it was clear that that didn’t work.
    Some train drivers saw a white streetlamp and took it for a ride-signal.

    The railroad decided than to chose a better colour combination.
    Red became STOP, because everybody knows that red means danger.
    The orange and green colour were radomly chosen.
    Orange being a pre-warning for red.
    Green as the colour to ride.

    Later when more and more cars were on the streets, there was a need for trafficlights.
    Red, orange and green worked good for the railroad; so they thought it would work for cars to.


  5. Marie-Jacqueline

    And so the orange versus yellow light issue won’t divide your family anymore.
    I’m honoured that I could be an instrument in this!


  6. Sorry. The divide remains. Marie-Jacqueline, since you’re Dutch, you’ve obviously been brought up since a young age to believe such things. I believe Dutch people, and perhaps a few others, have a different color spectrum. Americans, on the other hand, got this one right! I think I’m finally getting through to R too.


  7. And Barbara obviously has been enlisting the Dutch vote on the polling!


  8. What you have to understand about T, Marie Jacqueline, is that for some unknown reason he takes everything any Dutch person says with a grain of salt. Like I said, he’s a lost cause; he will keep on believing the light is yellow even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
    And I’m sorry, guys, that for other unknown reasons the responses to y’all’s comments are all mixed up. I didn’t get many comments BFP, so I have yet to figure this out.


  9. That’s strange: we call them “amber” here in the great white North.


  10. The Dutch and their love of the colour orange … 😉


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