Thursday, August 20, 2009

Photo Shootout - Signs

Okay, okay -- I know I've already posted the photograph above but I couldn't resist adding it again to this week's theme.

And what a diabolical theme Si has given us! I've become crazed at the insane signs we write! I can't read a sign anymore without seeing a pun or wanting to shoot it. I stop and hold up traffic. People honk at me! There is enough here to last for years!

But before I make fun of other people's signs, let me give you a tour of how we confuse the public at Charleston Center where I work. Unfortunately, I have to accept responsibility for much of these cryptic messages.

Our tour begins in the parking garage. The shot below is of the buttons in the parking garage elevator.

I have taken a close shot so you can see that, being cognizant of people with disabilities (I guess the political correct word now is "challenged") we have all the floors also marked with a number but also in braille. We want to make sure that blind (visually challenged) people are able to get quickly to their cars. What they do then...hmmm.

I guess they park their cars here.
(I looked but could not find where they put the braille...must be an old sign)

As we come to the entrance of our building, we see that we have extended the "No Smoking" zone as far away as we could. Of course, since most alcoholics still smoke and have no intention if giving it up (yet) and many of our clients are adolescents, I wonder how well this is enforced. Actually, I don't wonder at all...the sidewalk is lined with cigarette butts every morning. In fact, I think the person in the background was smoking at the time.

Being too smart for my own good, I decided to use the opportunity as a learning experience and hung the sign, below, on the front door.

No simple "No Smoking " sign for us! We provide an entire lecture. I am really embarrassed to admit that I'm the one who wrote this sign. But what gave me laugh is that it wasn't until I was posting this picture that I noticed in the last paragraph that somebody on staff with an eye for correctness has tried to erase the word "grassy". The island in back used to be grassy but it has been so tramped down by smokers and covered with cigarette butts that the grass has now all died.

Also on the front door, we inform people that concealable weapons are not allowed. But I guess that shotguns, automatic rifles, rocket launchers and things that are easily seen must be perfectly all right.

Once inside, we head for the restrooms.

Now this is a little subtle, but has caused us more than embarassment. Our restrooms are clearly and appropriately marked with handicap accessible signage. But for some reason the staff wanted separate restrooms from the clients so we put up little punch-codes (see arrow) so we don't have to share them with the riff raff that pay our salaries. However, the keypads were brilliantly installed at such a height that someone in a wheelchair could not reach them without standing up. So the staff bathrooms are indeed handicap accessible only if you can figure out how to get into them. This was not so funny a few years ago when we had our CARF survey (Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) which spends three days judging everything we do against 500 or so standards. We need to pass it in order to keep our doors open. And wouldn't you know it -- one of the surveyors showed up in a wheelchair! Fortunately there are 499 or so other standards. So we are still open. Unless you are in a wheelchair and need to go to the bathroom.

Speaking of mixed messages about accessibility. We have a service that provides translations for people who don't speak English. To make it easy for them we have signs like the one below:

Written in 20 different languages is the sentence: "Point to your language. An interpreter will be called." The only problem may arise if we get someone who speaks Tagalog. (Tagalog? I didn't even know there was a language called Tagalog? I thought Tagalog was a game played by Lumberjacks.) But --

Apparently the Tagalogians don't have a word for interpreter. So the poor guy who reads this sign understands that if he points to his language "something" will called. An immigration agent, perhaps? A government interrogator? I don't know if we have ever had a Tagalogian in our building but I know that no-one has ever pakituroed to this part of the sign.

We can then take the elevator down to leave the building...but not if it is on fire. Although, looking at the picture on this warning sign, it appears to me that the stairs are on fire. If the stairs are on fire, can't we at least then use the elevator?

Leaving our tour out the back of the building we find some staff parking lots. Since we couldn't secure them with little un-handicap accessible punch key pads, we wrote a sign:

This is an accurate sign but does not say what we wanted it to say. You have to follow the grammatical logic closely on this one. It doesn't say that owners of cars will pay for "towing expenses." It says they will pay for towing "enforcement" expenses. I suppose that would be salary of the security guards who enforce it. And it also doesn't say the owners of the cars. It just says "owners." Owners of what? It appears that it refers to the owners of Charleston Center, which would be Charleston County Government. And, by golly, that's absolutely correct. Charleston County does pay for towing enforcement! It's in the budget. But why we needed to post that information on the wall, I don't know when it would have been simpler to just write: "Staff Parking Only"

But enough of making fun of myself -- below is a sampling of other peoples' exercise of language:


Hey! Don't Complain!
You made it this far, what's another three blocks!
It's a good workout for your arms.

Okay, I give up -- is it manual? Or is it automatic?

Speaking of parking control signs --
People are just dying to park here!

But this is one parking area to avoid
unless you want the Godfather to send you
sleeping with the fishes.

A concept which gives an ominous connotation
to the sign below:

What bait should I use?

This one seems ominous too.
Are they forming a labor union for higher allowances?
Or coming after us with pitchforks?

Jesus Saves but doesn't pay the mortgage

But thankfully grace is still free.

And apparently, so is the sign below:

The "Zen" sign - or maybe the tree is for sale

Speaking of trees - this is one sign where nobody will ever
clear out the foliage that makes it hard to read
for reasons that should be obvious.

I just like the one above...made me feel good
I wonder what the store actually sells.


Do we really need a sign to tell us this is the end of the road?
This one is on Bull's Island where there are no cars
so I don't think there was a beginning of the road
in the first place.
The sign should actually read:
"This looks like a road but isn't one."

Any bush will do. Bring your own toilet paper.

Candid Camera. Do they have a movie of me taking a still?

This is from years back on a San Francisco trip.
Did Alcatraz really need a sign that said
"No one allowed ashore?"
Another blast from the past -- Atlantic City Boardwalk
No spears or spearguns? Darn.
How about concealable weapons.

Yes, this post has driven me nuts...fortunately
in Oaxaca, Mexico mental illness is a comodity



  1. I saw once a sign in Braille in an elevator - it was about shoulder high, how does a blind person know there is a sgn to give them safty rules that they need to read? loved your post.

  2. How did you find so many! I'm impressed! Love the restroom sign!

  3. I believe your signage speaks in many ways.

  4. I like that you were the one to write the no smoking lecture! And I find it amusing that no one thought a person in a wheelchair would actually work there one day!

  5. Ditto, very entertaining...gum on sign is a YUCK!

  6. Oh dear you had me laughing so much!

    I especially enjoyed the "no concealable weapons" ...only in America!! Hahah it's fine if you have a rifle on your shoulder ohhh dear I love it!

  7. Your writing talents were very obvious in this creation. I enjoyed ot very much. You paint images so well, verbally, that the photos would not be necessary. But, I enjoyed them. Thanks for the terrific fun.

  8. This was quite entertaining. It appears that the pedestrians have nothing better to do than to stick ABC (already been chewed) gum on the sign while waiting for who knows what. This was a fantastic tour.

  9. I love the way you take so many ordinary signs that most of us would have passed by without a glance, and weave them into an entertaining story.
    And darn you! now I feel badly about being so lazy this week!
    My favorite is the End Road. I hear it calling to me.

  10. quite a variety of signs! I am confused as to which is my fav now. too many!! great shoot out B&B!!

  11. Great post. I love the crazy signs that we put up in our crazy English.

  12. Giggle, snort - I so needed that this morning!! Thank you, thank you!!!! Wonderful shoot out as always!!! Sarah

  13. You went sign crazy on us. I think you really had fun with this one. No doubt Charleston is keeping an eye out for you running around with your camera. In the fifties, you would have been in trouble.

    I have to say that the last photo was my favorite, not because it was the last photo, but because there was something intriguing about it. Tell me more.

    I also liked the 'end of road' sign only because I want to continue on and see what is at the end of the road.

    You outdid yourself - but where was Bagman's sign?

  14. Hilarious, Mark! You have a great eye for absurdity I will never be able to look at another sign the same way!

  15. Impressive number of signs here. I think you and I had a similar interpretation and so I love your work! Symbolism, sarcasm and irony can be very thought provoking!

  16. You have put some real thought and time into this one! Nice work.

  17. Oh my goodness! I was at the funeral of a friend this morning. I taught with her for 20 years. She was with AA and had lung cancer. She was 64.
    So, I needed a good laugh this afternoon. Barry suggested I check out your blog. Fishing For Resident's Only and Sons and Daughters Gathering,,, I was snorting by the time I reached the dead end! Your thoughts about your office signs were so funny too especially the stairs burning. Thank you for adding some fun to my day today.=D

  18. Fabulous, well written and you certainly have some excellent signs. I think your thoughts make them that much better though...

  19. What I meant was, the commentary makes a sign that would get just a smile, instead gets a laugh. I love that about your whole blog, actually. :)

  20. Wow!!! What a collection. I love the first one. You risk of being told off to take that photo. I have been told off many times that photography wasn't allowed at their premises. Fortunately they never ask for my card.

  21. This post is an absolute blast ... I especially loved the ones where you made fun of yourself!
    June in Oz

  22. Oh you are a very gifted writer Mark.
    We were both on the same wavelength this week with our posts.
    Don't forget to make a sign that says "This is not a sign."
    Big hugs mate

  23. This was a very entertaining post. Thanks for the laughs!

  24. The Mob Parking was the best! I liked the Restrooms photo too. I think these preferences say something about my character or humor. Uh-oh!

  25. Fabulous collection! Your posts are always so entertaining- thank you! Oh and I like the sign included in your header :)

  26. Love the crazy sign montage. Very entertaining.

  27. Loved the signs! I've been on a bit of a sign thing too. Great fun!

  28. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it
    can survive a 25 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Also visit my homepage ... home cellulite treatment


  29. شركة كيان لنقل العفش بالرياض والمدينة المنورة وجدة ومكة والطائف والدمام تقديم لكم دليل كامل لشركات نقل العفش بالمملكة العربية السعودية
    نقل عفش شركة كيان
    دليل شركات نقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة