Loading...
BYH Chimer Clark. Your commercial bragging about how "TOUGH AS NAILS" you are as you glower at all of us with an AR-15...

Signs of the time

JimMullen

Jim Mullen

Loading…

Sunday, February 10, 2019

You're from out of town going 65 mph down the highway heading west, and you want to catch another highway going north. What do you think the exit sign should say in 3-foot-tall letters?

A) Gophertown

B) Exit 42

C) Gov. Tiddwilly Memorial Highway

D) Pinewood Mall

Quick, you've got nanoseconds to decide. It is part of the new theory in highway sign design — signs for people who already know where they are going. If you know where you are going, what do you need a sign for? Shouldn't signs be for people like me, out-of-towners who don't know what direction Gophertown is from here? I had plenty of time to think about it as I traveled west for 20 more miles.

Of course, some signs tell you more than you need to know. On the outskirts of one little down-on-its-heels town in our county is a ramshackle country store with a large sun-faded sign over the porch that says "Worms, Bait, Computers." I figure the worms are just loss-leaders to pull in the computer customers.

When we lived in the city, Sue and I used to go to a seafood restaurant that had a picture of a crab on one restroom door, a picture of a lobster on the other. We used to have great fun watching people get up from their table and head for the restrooms, only to be stumped by the signs. Sometimes they'd just shrug their shoulders and cautiously push on one or the other, but often they'd slink back to their tables, confused and distressed. Then we'd hear raised voices back at their table.

"Of course the lobster is the men's room. Lobsters are bigger than crabs."

"So, you think women are crabs?"

We saw many a nice anniversary dinner go down the tubes after that. The truth was, it didn't matter. The restrooms were only big enough for one person. You locked the door, and it was your personal restroom.

A few years ago, there was a craze for signs on cars that said "Baby on Board." I always wondered what the parents were trying to tell us? That it would be OK to ram them from behind with great speed if it were only adults in the car? Wouldn't that still be wrong?

Airports go out of their way to come up with confusing signs. Where else in the world would you see a sign directing you to "Ground Transportation"? Doesn't that just roll off the tongue?

"Honey, I'm taking the Ground Transportation to the store. Anything you need while I'm there?"

Our last trip, we took a free courtesy bus from the airport terminal to our car in the long-term parking lot. We had to stand on the crowded bus, and in the back of the bus was a sign that said C-O-U-R-T-E-S-Y written vertically.

C — Courtesy is not a word; it's our No. 1 job.

O — Our passengers deserve the very best.

U — Use the courtesy bus every time you travel.

R — Respect is not just a slogan, it's our policy.

T — I didn't get past T.

Our driver was screaming through the closed door at a woman trying to get on the courtesy bus. He wouldn't open the door for her. He kept yelling, "Catch the next one! Catch the next one!" through the closed door as he pulled away. It was raining. She had a small child in one arm and was dragging a big piece of luggage behind her. She chased the bus for a few yards before she gave up.

The problem seemed to be that sign was in the back of the bus where the passengers could read it, instead of in the front of the bus where the driver could have read it.

Jim Mullen is the author of It Takes a Village Idiot: A Memoir of Life After the City. His column, The Village Idiot, takes a look at the curiosities of American life.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

April 21, 2019

During my middle school years, my parents always used to invite my mother’s eccentric Uncle Bill to our house for Sunday dinner on Easter and other holidays. I don’t remember much of anything about Uncle Bill — except that he somehow managed to find ways to embarrass me in front…

Bob Garner

April 21, 2019

The refrigerator beeps if I accidentally leave the door open, which I do a lot, but it's a different beep than the one the dishwasher makes to tell me it has finished putting spots on my glasses.

Do I really have to know when the dishwasher is finished with its spotting cycle? Besides, when the…

JimMullen

April 21, 2019

It’s a one-way journey for helium, but a round trip for the ant-watchers.

Every day, a worldwide fleet of 1,800 balloons launches into the atmosphere for the sake of weather science and data reliance.

It’s a daily space race.

In this era of drones and rocket ships, balloons filled with…

joy moses-Hall.jpg

April 21, 2019

I surrender.

In wartime these words admit defeat and put the speaker in the custody of an adversary. They do not usually gain admiration.

Instead, we celebrate the advice popularly attributed to Winston Churchill: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”

We admire the single word…

DGMartin.jpg

April 20, 2019

Maybe we should have had this Mystery Plant back at Thanksgiving: some people think that the leaves of this little tree resemble a turkey’s foot, which for me would require a good bit of imagination.

I suppose that the middle lobes look a bit like the turkey’s toes on the sides, and of…

042019mysteryplant.JPG

April 19, 2019

Cap­sules of movies play­ing lo­cally. New re­leases are in­di­cated with an as­ter­isk.

AFTER — After follows Tessa - armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott, a magnetic,…

shazam-levi-glazer.jpg

April 19, 2019

Best of Enemies is the recent release based on the true story of an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater, an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a local Ku Klux Klan leader.

Set in Durham, N.C., during the racially charged summer of 1971, Atwater and Ellis come together to co-…

enemies

April 17, 2019

 

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am nervous about the idea of going to therapy. I was invited to go in order to build a stronger relationship with a family member, but I cannot imagine how talking to a stranger will help.

Whenever my relative and I are around each other for more than a couple of hours, we…

Harriette Cole

April 17, 2019

 

If "Unplanned" was an ordinary movie, its creators would be busy right now studying second-week box office numbers while starting negotiations with the digital giants that stream products to the masses.

But this has never been an ordinary movie, which is why it's an important test case for…

Terry Mattingly

April 17, 2019

Not those kind of mushrooms, silly. You want these mushrooms — namely, dried porcini mushrooms — in your kitchen. They keep indefinitely in your pantry and can easily be reconstituted for use with pasta, risotto, soups and sauces. Or you can simply blitz the heck out of them and turn…

Porcini Lamb Chops
172 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»