Saturday, June 14, 2014

flushing my dreams

I love signs.  Not the M. Night Shyamalan movie -- even though I did like it.  I am talking about the notifications that populate public places, and often provide us with private moments of smirking. 

As you know, I collect photographs of what I consider to be interesting signs.  If you type in "sign" in the search box at the upper left, you will find some gems from earlier posts.

The sign at the top of this post was in our cruise cabin bathroom.  The top portion is what I found funny.

It is a proofreader's nightmare.  "If anything other than toilet paper is deposited into the toilet, it will likey clog." 

I will skip any comments about the use of the passive voice that leaves the impression that the "anything other than toilet paper" will clog, rather than the toilet will clog.  That is just sloppy writing.

The more interesting portion of the sign is that we know the sign cannot possibly mean what it says.  Toilets are designed to have something "other than paper deposited into" them.  But sign writers are too delicate to be explicit.

I will confess that re-writing the sign might be difficult.  Especially for those of a sensitive nature.  But the real problem is the rather bossy tone that seems to underlie every bureaucratic and governmental pronouncement.

And that may be the solution.  Instead of addressing toilet users as if they were giant polluting industries, maybe we could be a bit more user friendly.

How about this? 

"We know you will need to use our toilet now and then.  That is why it is there.  When you are done with your business, feel free to toss your used toilet paper into the toilet.  But that is it.  Throwing anything else in will almost certainly clog the toilet causing distress for you and your neighbors.  And, if your neighbors do not beat you to death and toss you overboard, we will charge you for clearing the clog."

It is far easier to understand.  And other than the rather Victorian "your business," it is far more direct than the original.

But I guess that is what happens when you allow lawyers and governmental regulators to set the tone of public warnings.

And I will not even touch the sign's enticement for bathers to leave used towels on the floor.  Mothers throughout the world are undoubtedly (and understandably) recoiling at the thought.

But that is another topic.  As for the toilet instructions, I was pleased with the liberality of allowing used toilet paper to be placed in the bowl.

I am truly becoming Mexican at heart.

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