Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Signs of our times?

In the past two days I have seen two signs that made me wonder whether I was seeing a social commentary on the state of society.

Diversion: straight ahead
The first was actually a combination of two signs in tandem. They were the sort of temporary signs that sit on the road surface and look the worse for wear due to constant lugging about in the back of large lorries. The first said 'road closed ahead' followed by an arrow pointing right. Immediately behind it was one that said 'diversion' with an arrow point straight up.

Now I'm quite a smart cookie. I figured out the road that went off to the right was closed and they were giving me due warning before I tried turning in there (had I had any wish to do so). That instead, I should go straight and presumably at some point, I would be guided back to the route I had wanted to follow. I did wonder how obvious that might be to a new driver, but my mind was zooming off on more allegorical tangents (as usual).

When the side road is closed and the diversion is the road straight ahead. Hmm. That sounds a bit like JIT performance support to me. Instead of bucketing down a side road looking for a course to attend, I go straight ahead to the solution. But because this is a break from tradition, this is the diversion. Hmm again.

No pies
The second was just a few minutes ago. I was driving behind the delivery vehicle of a pie manufacturer. On the rear door of the van was the sign "No pies kept in this vehicle overnight". I had to smile. The time was once when no-one needed to put signs on the back of their van. Then we started to see post office vans and security comapny vans telling us that "No cash/mail kept in this vehicle overnight". This was followed by signs on shop doors telling us that the staff had no access to the safe. Obviously, in frustration at not being able to get our hands on this easy money, we started to steal equipment that we could fence, because we then started to see signs on vans telling us that "No tools kept in this vehicle overnight". Obviously this has got us so depressed that we must now seek solace in comfort food. Alas, even that avenue is now closed to the poor criminal!

We live in this high tech world, where data is the most valuable asset and people in the UK learn every week (it seems) of yet another case in which their data may have fallen into criminal hands due to ineptness on the part of some or other official. Yet in this same world we apparently have criminals who will break into a van, so great is their longing for pies. Perhaps it's because they're too busy hacking the government database to cook! Or perhaps it's a commentary on the increasing obesity of the British populace.

Somehow I think it will be some time before Gillian McKeith has to put a sign on her vehicle saying "No macrobiotic health products kept in this vehicle overnight".

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