Maybe it’s just my twisted sense of humour. But I love funny signs.

As a kid I remember seeing a road sign that stated “Heavy Plant Crossing”. I half expected to see a giant, potted aspidistra crossing the road.

Other signs that have caught my attention over the years include one which said nothing other than: “Warning: this sign has sharp edges.” Eh?

One that particularly appealed to me was: “Warning: Children left unattended will be sold to the circus” And at Table Mountain National Park there is a sign that states “Please look under your vehicles for penguins.”

When I was in my teens we had a family shop in my old hometown. One of the first things my father did when we got the shop was to hang a sign that said “Warning. Shoplifting makes your nose bleed”. It certainly gave a fair indication of what to expect.

But as a student of The Human Condition, I’ve discovered that the signs found in shops, hotels and offices reveal a great deal about the people who work there. Do they take themselves too seriously? Do they have a sense of humour? Signs and notices on the walls of the workplace will giver you a fair indication.

But sometimes the signs tell us about ourselves and our society. For example, I was recently on the train to Glasgow, and I noticed that every window had a sign that sported a big smiley face and the words: “Please do not put your feet on our seats”. Have we become such a feckless society that we actually have to be TOLD that putting your feet up on public transport seats is impolite behaviour?

And then I realised that we must be getting better, because I cannot remember the last time I saw a “No Spitting” notice. It seems we no longer need to be informed that hacking up a grolly and spreading it around is not really acceptable behaviour in polite company.

I guess it really IS a sign of the times.

Drew McAdam


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