Friday, May 10, 2013

Signs of futility

It seems to me that most signs are pointless.

Not those that help you get where you want to go, but the ones that preach at you.

One of the problems with signs is that they aren't needed for the folks who do the right thing without being told --- picking up after their dogs, not smoking near building entrances, not parking in the handicapped spots, not throwing foreign objects in the toilet, not littering, not fiddling with high voltage equipment, not driving too fast, not driving too slow, not rollerblading on multi-lane throughways.

The rest will just ignore the signs anyway, so why bother?

I concede that Stop, Do Not Enter, and One Way signs, are all absolutely needed to avoid carnage among drivers who are doing other things, like texting, eating breakfast, and applying their makeup.

A case can be made for Yield signs, although no sane person decides to drive into the path of a 22-wheeler because there's no sign suggesting he shouldn't.

But many other signs are just a waste of paint, eyesores that make urban landscapes even uglier.

Do you think admonitions to Buckle Up will change anyone's behaviour? What do you do with the information that you are driving on a Divided Highway, or that there are Security Cameras In Operation.

Maybe you should check that your fly is zipped up.

Why do people put Private Property signs on their obviously private property? Do they think people will otherwise think that their front lawn is a park, and erect a tent?

There are way too many signs. The Americans have a particular affinity for them.

A small example --- some interloper (person not possessing the required sticker) parked in the wrong place in our condo development in Florida about 20 years ago. The board was incensed that such a thing could happen, so they put up big, ugly, red and white signs everywhere threatening to tow such offenders.

To my knowledge, no one has ever been towed, which could be taken as proof that the signs are doing their job, or that they were unnecessary in the first place. I vote for the latter.
Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, cant you read the sign!
From the 1971 hit Signs by Ottawa's Five Man Electrical Band
On the other hand, trees have a calming effect, beautify the environment, reduce energy consumption by shading buildings, and soak up carbon dioxide while producing oxygen. So let's start yanking out signs and replacing them with trees.


  1. Ha ha! Never thought about it but I must say you are so right! (And so funny). Washroom signs are important if you aren't into the unisex thing. But, (off topic), I find those rams and ewes/ hens and roosters signs very annoying.

  2. High voltage signs serve a useful purpose. Let's keep those ones.

  3. Yes, I agree. There are way too many signs and it makes the neighbourhoods seem cluttered. On the street I live on, there are no signs and no wire (telephone, electricity, for example...they are buried underground), and it looks really pretty. You just see trees and flowers and gardens.

    Some places put up signs to avoid being sued. In case someone argues that "there was no sign" stating that his car would be towed if he parked on the private property. Ridiculous, yes, but I can see why these types of signs would be visible.