Loose Ends: Out of Order

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MEEKER I “Out of Order! Do not use or you will be trapped,” the paper posted on a stall in the public restroom proclaimed. It seems that some of the signs posted in the small, roadside businesses catering to tourists have had to resort to improving their signage. It seems their old signs ensuring public safety are being ignored.

Perhaps the people who are on the road after staying home for months on end are sick and tired of anyone restricting them. They found it hard enough to follow the public health mandates. Now that more of us are out and about, you might hear disgruntled folks taking issue with all sorts of public safety rules that were made long before this worldwide pandemic. 

Business owners have learned that to survive and keep their businesses open, they will be held accountable for not ensuring the health and well-being of their customers. The old signage has to be more than the original two or three word warning. Apparently something transpired during the week I was traveling, as when I stopped at the same convenience store on my return, a bigger, more readable sign was posted on the same stall door. It was no longer a handwritten scrap of white paper. The bold black capital letters were computer generated and the size of the font used commanded attention.

OUT OF ORDER

DO NOT USE

OR YOU WILL BE TRAPPED

IF YOU TRY

I surmised that the first sign required some adaptation. I also made some assumptions about Jane Q. Public’s behavior. The management might have had to extricate more than one or two women from the stall after they had tried to escape by sliding under the door. Apparently neither store management nor customers were standing down.

The variations on the sign were not only posted for the owner’s protection (think lawsuits), but for the health and safety of the public (again think lawsuits).

As more city and country folks stretch out of their range to reach more accessible goods and services, our patience has decreased. These quick stop places for food and gas have had to resort to changing tactics. Since their latest customers have been let out of lockdown, no one trusts anyone.

Most everyone appreciated knowing that something was amiss simply with the use of those three words — “Out of Order!” 

The use of many more words of caution makes the business owner feel more safe and less liable. Yet, who would have thought that the last three words would have encouraged even the most patient people to resort to a show of bad behavior. “IF YOU TRY” had the same effect as   “Go ahead, I dare you.” I expect to see the stall door removed by the time I go on my next trip.


By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times

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