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June 18, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Signage Giving off a Poor Message

By Claire Franklin More Blogs by This Author

An Emergency

I went shopping at a small mom-n-pop grocery store and, in the middle of shopping, realized I had to use the restroom. Immediately. I had to go so bad, I couldn’t finish shopping. Inside the store I saw no signs or arrows pointing to the ladies’ room, so I pushed my cart to the end of an aisle, left it and walked outside. I was desperate.

Luckily, the grocery store is in a shopping plaza with several other businesses. Hoping to quickly find a restroom, I began walking and came upon a restaurant. With a sigh of relief, I went to the door and put my hand up to push it open. And then my eyes fell upon a handwritten sign taped to the door that read, “Restrooms are for customers only.”

I didn’t know what to do. By this time, I really had to go. So I walked a little further down the sidewalk and came upon a pizza shop. And you guessed it… on that door, was the same sign as on the restaurant, except this one was professionally lettered rather than handwritten.
I had no choice. I had to use the restroom so desperately that I walked inside and ordered a small cheese pizza. After I paid, I asked if I could use the ladies’ room. The woman behind the counter cheerfully told me that yes, I could. Finally.

After I was home at last, and that long day had drawn to a close, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of world we now live in. People can’t even enter public restrooms without forking over some money. I paid almost seven dollars for a pizza just to use their facilities. Yes, the pizza tasted good, but I never would have ordered it if I hadn’t needed to relieve my bladder.

Broadcasting Our Shortcomings

Keep Out

This situation got me thinking about another sign I had seen in northern Michigan. This was on the edge of a residential driveway, reading, “Don’t Even Think of Trespassing Here.” This is an interesting sign in that two different scenarios may have led to its existence. First, is the possibility that the owner is so hateful of society he or she doesn’t want to be near anybody. The other potential scenario is that he or she was previously robbed and is now trying to stave off another similar event.

Another inappropriate message, this time as the headline of a front page news article in my hometown’s newspaper, read, “College Ready for a Black President.” This came on the heels of naming a new president for the town’s community college, and yes, he is black. But for a newspaper to make such a blatant announcement defines the town as not only completely backwards in terms of progress, but also quite segregated in how it perceives people and positions of power.

Lastly, I was in a store and read a sign near the cash register that contained a photocopy of someone’s driver’s license. Beside the photocopy were the words, “This person wrote a bad check to my store. If you see him, tell him you know what he did.” I understand that being duped – especially when you’re a small business owner – is no small thing. But to embarrass someone in a small town seems unnecessary. Everybody makes mistakes.

Enough with the signs already. Can’t we just live day to day without expecting money for everything we do, making demands of others, denouncing an entire town, and/or humiliating fellow citizens?

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  • When in doubt, just use the bathroom at the place. You're always a potential customer. Not necessarily today, but the cleanliness of facilities and hospitality of staff are factors in whether you will ultimately become a purchaser. I doubt there is anyone who would actually enforce that sign if they see you are in distress.

  • Wow, at the driver's license picture. That is totally messed up, and should not happen. I understand someone is holding a grudge, but really? That's personal information, and wrong.

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