Editorial: Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

Published 6:54 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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Signs. Signs. Everywhere there’s signs.

(Messing) up the scenery, Breaking my mind.

Do this, don’t do that. Can’t you read the sign.

The lyrics to that Les Emmerson song from the 60s are still true today. And like the song, the signs are just a sign of the times, so to speak. We’ve become a society of “you can’t do that here.” And the signs let us know exactly what you can’t do, or aren’t supposed to do in a particular location.

There are too many rules in this world. And people seem to go a bit too far when explaining those rules, especially on the signs.

Returning from vacation in a high-rise beach rental, there were plenty of rules. And there were plenty of signs announcing those rules: at every door, on the refrigerator, on the glass doors to the balcony, next to the pool, on the way to the beach. If you stopped and read them all, you would never make it anywhere.

No smoking. I understand that. No non-smoker wants to smell leftover, stale cigarette smoke. Heck, most smokers don’t want to smell that, either. But the folks who run these places didn’t stop at that. Not only did the signs say “No Smoking,” they added or vaping, or marijuana, or cigars, or e-devices … Apparently, no smoking means more than just no smoking. I even wonder if I would have been charged for smoking a brisket on the grill the resort provided. Probably.

This resort also outlawed horseplay. That’s right. Horseplay. Maybe they meant playing with horses, because there’s no way to stop pre-teen boys from engaging in a little horseplay – especially if there are pre-teen girls around. I saw it myself, but didn’t see any rules police jerking them off the pool deck by their ears. Were the signs just suggestions?

Just going to the beach, you’re bombarded with signs. One was a flag explanation, which could be helpful. Different color flags represent different surf conditions, pretty important to those Canadians who thought the ocean temperature was like a hot tub.

But the sign also says what is not allowed on the beach: unleashed pets, litter, illegal drugs, fireworks, fires, glass bottles, tents and probably a few I don’t remember. Thank goodness I didn’t read that sign until the last day. One of the rules: no alcoholic beverages on the beach.

Oh well, rules are made to be broken and signs are erected to be ignored. Take those speed limit signs, for instance. Drive the speed limit in many places and you’re creating a slow-driving hazard.

Speaking of driving, if you pay attention to every billboard and road sign, there’s no way to keep your eye on the road. Signs are not only annoysome, they can be dangerous.

One of my favorites of all time was seen in Georgia, a public service billboard urging folks to learn how to read. This was a sign with words. I’m all for fighting illiteracy, but if you can’t read, how can a sign direct  you to learn how? That one was probably placed with public funds.

And the sign says “Everybody welcome,

Come in Kneel down and pray”

But then they passed around a plate at the end of it all And I didn’t have a penny to pay.

So I got me a pen and paper.

And I made up my own (little) sign.

I said Thank you Lord, for thinking about me.

I’m alive and doing fine.

Yes, alive and doing fine. Thank you, Lord. I may make a sign saying just that.

– Mike Barnhardt