Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

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

Month: May, 2016

No Trespassing… After Hours

no trespass after hoursSo, may we infer that trespassing during normal business hours is OK? (This sign is posted at the edge of a somewhat dishevelled parking lot, near a train station in Durham, North Carolina.)

Don’t Lift This Bus

bus_ do not lift 2Here’s an example of a normative sign that looks utterly silly to 99.9% of people who read it, but which is incredibly important to the people to whom it is actually addressed. In this case, the “do not lift by bumper” is addressed to tow-truck drivers, who could damage the bus by doing it wrong. The rest of us can just relax, and be assured that we are in no way to expected embarrass ourselves bus_ do not lift 3by trying to lift a bus by its bumper.

(Thanks to Tara Ceranic Salinas for sending me the photo.)

Passengers Only

This sign is from the bathroom aboard the Eurostar train from Paris to London.WC

One wonders who else other than passengers might be tempted to use it. Given that this particular bathroom generally travels at about 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph), it’s hard for non-passengers to casually slip in.

This photo was contributed by Wayne Norman, who points out that the decor of this bathroom is probably “a helluva lot more effective than imploring patrons to be tidy and not abuse or deface the facilities….” Not all signs, in other words, are signs.


Sharp Employee?

PleaseNoNeedles-resizedThis sign was spotted posted on a wall-mounted (built-in) trash receptacle in a restroom at CMH (Columbus, OH airport).

The pic was submitted by Phil Smith III, who wonders whether CMH really has just one employee (as implied by the grammar of the sign). Phil also noted that this sign might usefully have directed readers to the “sharps” receptacle located at the other end of the room. Surely the injunction against putting needles in the trash would be more effective if users were told that they had another, safer, alternative.