September 29, 2014
Signs these days work as well as an eight-term Congress person. If a sign says wet paint, people touch it, and how often do you see an abandoned couch beneath a "No Dumping" sign? If your "No Trespassing" sign isn't stolen, it only serves as an invitation to party and picnic on your private property. "No Hunting" signs only remind hunters to clean their gun in anticipation of hunting season, and if they see a big buck on your property there isn't a sign in the world that will keep them off of it.
Let's be honest, who amongst us when they see a 65 miles per hour speed limit sign doesn't drive 68 or 69 just to see what we can get away with? In every restaurant that has a sign that says, "No shoes, no shirt, no service" you're bound to see diners wearing tank tops and flip-flops because none of us like to be told what we can, or can't, do. Some people see a "No Parking" sign and their reaction is, "Well, we'll just see about that, won't we now? No one is going to tell me where to park!"
Part of the reason that signs don't seem as effective any more is because they are written poorly and convey the wrong image. For example, I've seen signs in rest rooms of several restaurants that read, "Employees must wash your hands."
I am perfectly capable of washing my own hands, thank you very much.
Those signs along the road that tell what services are available at the next exit can really be confusing. One in our area says "Hospital Camping Next Exit," which makes visitors wonder how good medical care is in our neck of the woods.
Years ago the Readers Digest told of a sign in a church that read, "The bowl to the rear of the church that says, "For the Sick," is for monetary contributions only." And a sign out front of another church that listed the week's sermon and special messages said, "Do you know what hell is? Come and hear our organist."
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Some signs are funny but I'm not sure they were meant to be. As a child on old Route 66 every summer we passed a lot of Stuckey's signs that read, "Eat with us and get gas." And I heard about a sign in a skyscraper restaurant restroom that read, "Toilet out of order. Please use floor below." I'd hate to be the janitor in that place.
Your typical ranch signs don't work any more either. The landlord of a ranch we leased had six expensive "No Trespassing" signs painted. Four of them were stolen in less that a month and years later I spotted one at a former friend's house!
I think optional signs like these might have been more effective in keeping trespassers out: "Please don't feed the Rottweillers or German Shepherds; Don't trespass; the Drones are watching; Bulls mating, stay in your car; Our dogs are not vegetarians; Beware of quicksand." Instead of having a sign that shows your home is protected by some security company have one instead that says, "This home protected by Smith, Wesson, Winchester and Baretta. And that ain't no law firm!"
Visual stimuli can also be effective. If you are tired of getting your fences cut tie a couple roadkill squirrels or rabbits and a "High Voltage" sign on your fence along with a sign that says… "You will be CHARGED if you cut this fence." If you are tired of your ranch being used as a dumping ground, instead of a "No Dumping" sign have one made that reads "Toxic Waste Dump". If you are a dumping ground for cat litters put up a sign that says, "Cats welcome. Dog food is getting expensive."
Then there's the smart rancher who got tired of following slow moving tourists and big motor homes on the road to his ranch so he painted his own sign that said, "Historical marker ahead." Then a quarter mile up the road he flattened a small parking lot and placed an important looking rock marker with a brass plaque on it that said: "History was made this day when a slow-moving, rubbernecking tourist pulled to the side of the road so I that I could finally pass. Adios sucker!"