Stop Ahead, Slow Atorso. Ten Signs That Need to be Retired…

Signs and notices inform our behavior–and we often need them, as so many of us are sheep, unable to form a creative thought or otherwise think for ourselves. On the road, in restaurants, and in multiple public forums, written warnings and notifications (at least subliminally) impact our actions and futures. 

But really, aren’t some of the messages from big brother a little obvious–a little passe’, even considering how stupid the better part of the world is? Surely, even the least of our brethren are able to, by this time, figure out some of the most basic rules that govern our lives. For example, most people realize by now, that water is necessary to make shampoo work, so perhaps it’s time to remove the instructions from the back of the Prell bottle?


Yes, we’re a sue-crazy society, and everyone wants to cover their asses, but how do we evolve as a people if we don’t admit that some concepts are ready to be discarded? Even the first American settlers eventually took down their “Please Don’t Feed the Indians,” signs. We should be prepared to do the same.


Ten Signs that Should Finally Be Removed
1) Exit–Perhaps these signs made sense in 1892 when every single piece of building material was highly combustible, open flames were the primary source of lighting, and horrific fires were commonplace, but nowadays aren’t we all pretty aware of where to go in a theater or auditorium if there’s a fire? Uh, the front or the back. Or the sides if you’re in a big theater–where else would those doors go? And these signs are equally as superfluous in the corridors of your average workplace or school. Most people are in these places day in and out and know every exit. Just where are all of these mazes and labyrinths anyway, that necessitate incessant reminders of an available escape route?



2) Heimlich Maneuver–In 1978 New York City became one of many cities to force restaurants to post signs showing how and when to apply the aforementioned maneuver. We know it by now. Really. And we’re still going to be too frightened to use it, despite our fantasies of coolly seizing the day with powerful back-slaps and ab-thrusts. Why not put up a sign telling me how to do a quick heart valve replacement? C’mon doc, don’t make me do your job for you.


3) Wrong Way/One Way–In a big, complex city, obviously these signs make sense. My objection is to their continued presence around major highways. A “wrong way” sign facing the opposite direction on the exit of an expressway is especially baffling.  Let’s pretend you idiotically get on an exit ramp and not an entrance ramp of a highway. If upon entering the highway, you don’t notice multiple cars (actually exiting the highway) coming directly at you, and somehow make it up to the road, then are not able to notice hundreds of cars immediately baring down upon you at high speeds, it’s hard to believe that that little red sign is going to be the thing to finally tip you off.




The same principle applies to “one way” signs placed upon highways that are so crowded they couldn’t possibly accommodate a car traveling the incorrect way. By the time the driver would notice the sign, he would be destroyed.


4) Blind/Deaf/Slow Children Playing–These are like a smack in the face. We accept signage notifying us that children are playing because they are weaker and more irresponsible than adults. They are already handicapped by their age, which is why we give the them the courtesy of extra care. How much more care can possibly be given to a messed-up kid? The obvious implication is that we weren’t giving too much of a shit about the healthy kids in the first place. Some nerve. And how does it help us to know the child is deaf? Would we normally just give a child in the road a honk and hope for the best without slowing down? It’s time to stop insulting us. 


This sign tells me that the deaf child up ahead has no friends, which doesn’t stop him from pumping his arms furiously as he runs around playing with no one.  In addition, his parents clearly don’t want their deaf kid to assimilate as they’re dressing him in the height of Victorian fashion–short trousers, dress shoes, and an odd, high-collared jacket. 


5) No Smoking–Though these are logical in places where smoking has just been banned, some places are so clearly contrary to what smoking is, that the signs are really no longer required–it’s not 1957. Airplanes, subway cars, schools, and hospitals are pretty clearly non-smoking establishments–unless you’re a damn lunatic, in which case, what the hell do you care about some sign?



6) Push/Pull–No one reads these signs, and we inevitably continue to make door pushing and pulling mistakes that aren’t our fault, and cannot be remedied by signs placed at hand level. Dealing with doors is instinctive. How about a new Universal Law? If there is a handle in front of you, then you pull. If not, you push. 


7) No Dogs Allowed–This sign’s time has passed. Dogs aren’t allowed anywhere. Was there some (presumably filthy) time in our past when dogs could just come and go like as they pleased, eat in restaurants, and shop at the finest stores? Perhaps their owners were happily puffing away at unfiltered cigarettes while they led their dogs into operating rooms and restaurant kitchens. 


8) Please Stand Behind the Yellow Line–Found on subway platforms and train stations, these redundant signs are nonsensical. What else could the yellow line mean? Could it mean that you should step over it, and onto the train tracks, where everybody knows you’d be struck by oncoming train? Really, who even needs the yellow line? One inch past it is either a giant long tunnel that the subway train is about to occupy, or tracks that even little children know that trains run on. Who is this helping?



9) Stop Ahead–This always seemed like a warning for a warning. Isn’t the classic “stop” sign, with its bright red color and specific shape, designed to warn us ahead of time to stop because of crossing traffic? Why warn us of that upcoming warning? Shouldn’t speed limit signs regulate us to a point that we’re not just being forced to abruptly stop anyway? What good is a “stop” when one can be cautioned by a “stop ahead”? Doesn’t the intersecting road force us to stop our cars?


Exhibit A.


10) No Shirt No Shoes No Service–Unless these signs are found at a resort or beach community, the only purpose they serve is to inform your customers that you expect them to be trash. This is insulting unless they actually are. But then why alienate the bulk of your clientele? If a good majority of your customers are so uncivilized as to think that they can just pad about like beasts, then the hell with it–let them. Sell them jerky and retire to Branson.  


If you are illiterate or are not sure what a “shirt” or “shoe” is, will these signs really help? It looks like muscular, broad-shouldered men, and feet are not allowed.


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