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Written by Lee Pitts   

Sign language

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 it.

Let’s be honest—who amongst us, when they see a 65 mph 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 anymore is because they are written poorly and convey the wrong image. For example, I’ve seen signs in restrooms 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.”

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.


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Holyoke Enterprise July 31, 2014