Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

In which the author finds beauty in how people tell other people what to do.


compact_carThis photo was taken in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There’s little remarkable about the normative sign, here. Except that a) it is remarkably terse, and b) the driver of the mid-sized SUV parked by it apparently has no idea — or no concern — what it means.

Nor, for that matter, did the drivers of most of the cars parked in that row. All of the spaces in this row were marked “Compact,” and about 3/4 of the vehicles were — this is the USA, after all — decidedly not compact.

Redesigning Parking Signs

parking_scheduleNormally I only post signs spotted ‘in the wild.’ But shown here is a sign that isn’t in use yet. It’s an attempt by designer Nikki Sylianteng to design a parking sign that actually makes sense.

Here’s the story from Wired: A Redesigned Parking Sign So Simple That You’ll Never Get Towed.

Here’s the designer’s page.

No Concealable Weapons


This sign is posted in Charleston, South Carolina.

This is not the sort of sign one sees in Canada (where I live), which is perhaps why I’m baffled and amused by the wording. Is it really “concealable” weapons they want to exclude? If you’re going to specify subsets of lethal weapons to exclude, I can understand why you don’t want concealed (i.e., hidden, secret) weapons. But why concealable? Is the implication that it is OK to walk in with a pump-action shotgun, but not a 6-shooter on your hip? After all, the former aren’t (easily) concealable, but the latter are concealable, even if not concealed.

More to the point, perhaps, is whether you want people trying to parse the concealed/concealable distinction as they approach the door.

I realize this is touchy stuff in many parts of the US, and I’m not posting this to engage in a debate over the right to bear arms. I just find the sign verbally odd.


Quick update: apparently the wording is legally required.