Signs of the Times

As a New Yorker, I have grown quite accustomed to signs throughout the city telling me what to do and how to live my life. Some of them are very important (Trains do not stop at this track) some of them are just plain confusing (No Standing) but they all carry some bit of value.
I realize it is important to read these signs. I read all of the signs that I see. It is because of this that I know that subway litter causes track fires. I always mind the gap, and I typically wait for the little white man to appear before I cross the street. I believe if someone took the effort to craft a sign to educate me about something, it is my duty to abide by it.
That is, until I went to visit my mother in South Carolina.
I was looking forward to a couple of days down south, a little golf, a little southern cooking, and a whole lot of relaxation. I fully expected to be seduced by the slower pace of life, and the southern drawl that infuses every word. And I was, but what I did NOT expect, was to be completely baffled by the signage. I guess when life moves that slow you can both dwell on insignificant details, and completely miss the important ones.
There are actually 2 signs in particular that can pretty much sum up my entire time in the swamps of South Carolina.
My first encounter was at a gated community of my parents’ friends. There is a small fenced-in pool for residents and their guests to use. It was a nice little facility that was quite empty when my mother and I rolled up for a swim. I am always curious how late things are open so I walked over to the pool rules to see what the last swim time was. Imagine my surprise when I saw rule number 6:
Persons with diarrheal illness or nausea should not enter the pool.
For me, if I have either of those things I typically don’t stray far from my favorite toilet. But I could understand their worries about small children leaving deposits in the pool. I guess nothing should be taken for granted. However rule 7 kicked it up a notch:
Persons with skin, eye, ear, or nasal infections should not enter the pool.
Isn’t this common sense? I know how painful it is when you get chlorine in your eyes, or water stuck in your ear. I can only imagine how it would feel if you had an infection. But the one that took the cake was rule number 8:
Persons with open lesions or wounds should not enter the pool.
Open lesions or wounds? OPEN LESIONS OR WOUNDS? Is this a housing development or a leper colony? Who the hell is walking around with an open lesion thinking to themselves, “Hmm, you know what would feel good right now is the incredible burning sensation of some pool chlorine in my exposed flesh.”
Come on. I am not sure if the pool manager once managed a pool for an amputee hospital or an STD clinic, but I did not feel some of his rules were needed.
I fully expected rule number 9 to say:
Persons with gout, scarlet fever, or the Black Death should also not enter the pool.
But it didn’t.
The other sign that had me wondering was a lot more cut and dry. It was on a local highway from Savannah back to Hilton Head, on a road that had more than a few creepy broken down trailers along its side. And then I saw it. On a big piece of white wood maybe 4 feet in width, written in black spray paint:
FRESH SHIMP
Really? That is your sign? Your entire business is comprised of people seeing your sign and then driving down a dirt road to your apparent “Shimp” stand. Don’t you think you would have taken at least a second glance at it? To be honest, at that point, it really doesn’t matter how amazing your product is, you could have “Magical Talking Shimp” if you cannot even spell the name of your product, it is going to put a serious dent in your drive by customer traffic.
It is not even the spelling mistake that gets me, because we have all stopped something in the middle, walked away from it, and then come back to finish it while forgetting a letter or a word. That is fine. But this did not appear to be a new sign. This sign had been hanging for a while. Literally thousands of people had seen it. The owner had to have seen it every single day.
He must have thought, “Well gosh, I spent 3 minutes spray painting it, and another 2 minutes nailing it to that tree… I couldn’t possibly spend 9 seconds drawing an R into there. No, I will just leave it and hope for the best.”
Hey, if it works for him it works for me. Just don’t expect me to stop my car to support the local economy. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to check myself for open wounds and lesions.