Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

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

Something Must Be Worn On This Site

construction copy

Normativity: you’re doing it wrong.

This sign suggests that something — something — absolutely MUST be worn on this construction site. But it won’t reveal just what. Agonizingly, it provides hints. Hard hats? Safety boots? Gloves? Vest? Hearing protection? But none of the check-boxes is actually checked off, so we’re left to wonder.

Should a visitor wear all of them (just to be safe…literally!) Or none of them, because after all none of the boxes is checked?

(This was posted at a residential construction site near Ossington Ave., in Toronto.)

Please See Hostess

see_hostessIs this South Carolina restaurant not an equal opportunity employer?

OK, so fine. Casual observation (over several visits) does confirm that the people who have hired to seat customers do all happen to be women. So the sign is accurate in the directions it gives. But is that the sort of thing you really want to entrench in your normative signage? Is this place denying the possibility that it might ever hire a dude for such a job?

I’m not whining about reverse sexism, here. I just find the wording odd.

Is the use of the word “hostess” really necessary? What about “maitre d'”? For that matter, isn’t “host” pretty close to gender neutral (the way some say “actor” is)? Or would that just prompt me to post the sign and register the opposite worry?

The food is delicious, by the way.