I am a nut when it comes to noticing messages on signs. To say I love reading them is an understatement. I do it out of curiosity and sometimes for entertainment. It's second nature for me to evaluate how they're written, whether or not they're clear or if they have double meanings.
There's one posted in the play area at Burger King that caught my attention. Among all the usual rules, such as no food or drink, not responsible for stolen items, remove shoes and so on, was "Kids must be supervised by happy adults."
Happy adults? I chuckled and wondered how many unhappy adults put on a smile when they read that.
I'm all for signs that are good brainteasers, but these were downright ridiculous:
"Do not enter. Entrance only."
"This is the back door. The front door is around the back."
Talk about flip-flopping!
"OPEN: most days from 9 to 10 a.m., occasionally as early as 7 a.m., but sometimes as late as noon or 1 p.m. CLOSED at about 5:30 or 6 p.m., sometimes as early as 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., but sometimes as late as 11 p.m. or midnight. Some days or afternoons we are not here at all. Lately, I've been here just about all the time, except when I'm somewhere else but I should be here then too."
That sign took way too much work to follow, if that's even remotely possible.
"We offer three kinds of service: Good. Cheap. Fast. Good service cheap won't be fast. Good service fast won't be cheap. Fast service cheap won't be good."
If this is true, I wonder what good, cheap, fast service looks like.
Years ago, when I waited tables at a truck stop, I not only served tables, I had bathroom cleaning duties, as well. That's why this next one really hit home.
"The hands that remove the pennies and cigarette butts from these urinals are the same hands that serve your beer and chips. Please do not throw cigarette butts and pennies in urinals."
The trouble with most signs is they don't get noticed mainly because we are too busy and distracted. However, here are several that would be hard to miss:
"Welcome to St. Louis, Oklahoma, home of 179 friendly people, one pyromaniac and one busy body."
O.K., right about now I'm seriously wondering where the pyromaniac is now?
"Unattended children will be given an Espresso and a free puppy."
I'm thinking a warning like that would be a real threat for most parents or grandparents.
I also like cute and creative signs, such as "For sale by owner: lost job, can't pay mortgage, wife left, took dog, house a gem, except for asbestos." And, "Attention Dog Guardians: Pick up after your dogs. Thank you. Attention Dogs: Grrrr, bark, woof. Good dog."
Columnist Andy Rooney once said that most of us don't like to be told anything by a sign. However, something tells me he wouldn't mind these:
"Those who throw objects at the crocodiles will be asked to retrieve them."
"Do not stand, sit or lean on zoo fences. If you fall, animals may eat you and that might make them sick."
"Please do not throw your cigarette butts on the ground. The fish crawl out at night to smoke and we are trying to get them to quit."
Isn't it bad enough that tobacco companies target children? Now fish?
"Tigers love kids, but they are hard to digest. So, please stay back."
I don't know about you, but I brake for messages on church marquees. Here are some I really got a kick out of and hope you do, too.
"Honk if you love Jesus or text if you want to meet him."
"Heavenly forecast. God will reign forever."
"Jesus is coming. Look busy."
Isn't that the same technique people use at work?
"If God is your copilot, switch seats."
This one is a veritable news flash for anyone who has forgotten the third Commandment: "God's last name isn't damn."
Be sure to stay alert. Who knows, there may be a message or chuckle meant especially for you in a sign along the way.
2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on FaceBook.