Absurd Signs (Everywhere!)

Updated 2005-04-09 (At long last!)

Question: Do people ignore signs because they are so often wrong...
or are signs so often wrong because people will ignore them anyway?

The images shown here are original, unaltered photographs taken in generally public places. All comments are strictly the personal opinion of the photographer. No photographs or comments are misleading, or known to be false.

Pour House, Boston, MA - 2002-07-30

Okay... I crossed out the word "Beer" in this photo, taken on what must have been a 110-degree July afternoon.

I was thinking even if they didn't have beer, so long as it was cold inside, I'd be there!

Hair Salon, Allston (Boston,) MA - 2004-09-08

That's right! We sold every one we had, and now we need more.

CVS Pharmacy, Watertown, MA - 2005-03-11

I don't know about you, but unless you're only there to answer phones, you should have more than just a high school diploma and no pharmacy experience to work behind the counter where my prescription medication is handled. Scary!

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2003-08-09

Ah, those were the days.

Nail Salon, Chinatown, Boston, MA - 2003-07-10

One word of suggestion: Kerning.

Harper's Ferry, Allston, MA - 2003-05-05

Someone at this establishment has taped over the words, "To report a violation" and written in, "To compalin." Nice try, bucko.

Geee.. When I went to a concert here, I didn't notice the crowd was any smaller than usual. They were just all not smoking. I guess the argument that bars and restaurants lose business to anti-smoking laws is bogus. We non-smokers have cash, too!

Harvard Ave. Allston (Boston), MA - 2004-08-20

The headline giveth and the fine print taketh away.

Radiology Dept., Faulkner Hospital, Boston, MA -2005-04-05

You mean they had enough people taking more than one number that they had to put up this sign? Why would anyone take more than one number?

Hadassah Bargain Spot store, Allston, MA - 2003-03-28


Two big 'oops' in one store window. Bummer.

Corners Frame Shop, Newton, MA - 2003-08-14

No... That's THREE corners.

Re-stating that this is a guarantee is not part of the guarantee.

Home Depot's Expo Store, Burlington, MA - 2003-03-08

Once you get past the misspelling...

I'm curious why machines that wash dishes are called dishwashers, but machines that clean clothes are usually not called clotheswashers.

Building 19, Somerville, MA - 2003-03-22

I did, but couldn't tell the difference between a man's and woman's rug. Or should I have looked in the hairpiece department?

City Hall, Watertown, MA - 2005-03-17

I still don't know why "Jack" seems to be a popular and acceptable substitute for "John," when it's just as long.

Think "Bob" for Robert, "Bill" for William, "Ed" for Edward, "Steve" for Steven, "Vicki" for Victoria, etc.

Think JFK. I know at one point very early in school, I thought Jack Kennedy was one of the former President's many relatives.

Wal-Mart - 2003-04-05

Yup, that's what you usually do in a lavatory.

Danvers, MA - 2003-05-28

Again: Vic's Caterer's what?


Cambridge, MA - 2002-08-07

Pop Quiz:

Quick... do you remember what the questions were, and when?

(I want to know not only why ballot questions are simply given numbers that are re-used for each election, but also why people keep these bumper stickers on their car several elections beyond their meaningful use. Sure, if the ballot questions last Spring were number 1, 2 and 3 and the questions this Fall were 4, 5, 6 and 7, it might make more sense. But think about it: You've got a "No on 2" bumper sticker on your car from last Spring, but what if you're supporting Question 2 this Fall, since it's a different issue altogether?!?)

And what about where?

What if this person were driving through an area with a 'Question 3' that has nothing to do with the 'Question 3' they're advocating, and might not want to vote 'Yes' on?

Store - 2002-07-28

Chalk-up another one for inappropriate use of quotation marks.

Why does "We Now" and "We Accept" deserve this treatment?

Restaurant, Revere, MA - 2002-10-17

This restaurant sells:

Taco... (They only have one taco?)

Enchiladas, Chicken, Beef, Pork... and Rib's? Rib's what?

Why is "Enchiladas" plural, but "Rib's" is possessive?

Exposition Place, Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-30

No alcohol... in a beer garden?

Same message on both sides of this sign, incidentally.

Exposition Place, Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-30

The kids working at this concession stand thought my observation was amusing, too: Not Frozen, okay. But what's the difference between 'fresh' and 'qualifresh?'

(Did you know that when you have your car cleaned at 'Scrub-a-dub,' you get it 'Scrub-a-dub clean?' Really? No doubt).

Exposition Place, Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-29

Now it's the taco that's possessive!

And... Arn't tacos by definition hard-shelled, and anything with a soft shell is called something else?

And... If the steak isn't beef, then what kind of meat is it that's more expensive than the beef?

Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-29

Oh... the IRONY!


Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, TN - 2002-09-04

Strange (and inconsistent) security measures here. This sign appears on the two main entrance doors at this hospital. Yet I discovered by accident that after 9:30PM the door I entered was in fact not locked.

I did not have to go through the Emergency Department entrance. I was told by those that didn't realize the misleading nature of this sign that entering the hospital through this entrance (at least during these hours) involved an airport-style search and metal detector routine.

Personally, I don't understand why these measures are employed either at the Emergency Department entrance only, or only there during these late hours.

Why not at all entrances and at all hours?


(One also might muse on the improbable scenario: "Sir, I know you're arm has been ripped off, but you still need to empty your pockets...")

Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, TN - 2002-09-05

Is it just me, or does it seem like this would not be a very fun event?


Belmont St., Belmont, MA - 2002-01-11

Read slowly. This is not advertisement for a 'dot-com,' but rather a poorly abbreviated ad. Note 'EL.' instead of 'E.L.' and 'Full Insured' instead of 'Fully Insured.'

Provincetown, MA - 2002-06-05

I got a chuckle from this one. People are ever so nice in this town.

Residential Neighborhood, Watertown, MA - 2002-07-22

Sure, I understand what this sign is intended to mean, but it sure looks like you're supposed to watch out for POOLS crossing the street.

I wonder why the town figured it would be best to indicate on this sign WHY people are crossing the street, instead of just to be cautious for people crossing the street for any reason in general?

Twin City Plaza, Cambridge/Somerville, MA - 2002-03-12.

First, this sign appears to be directing people to the "Lower MaN," not the "Lower Mall."

Secondly, they've installed almost half of these illuminated signs upside down or backwards!


John Harvard's Brew House, Boston, MA - 2002-04-26.

It was 6:00 when we sat down at this table.

We were quickly informed by the wait staff that this table was reserved.

I said, "Fine, we'll be done eating by then."

We were then told that the table was also reserved from 5:00 until 7:00 for another party.



School, Belmont, MA - 2002-04-30.

This will be added to my eventual photo series, "101 reasons why we'll never achieve a 'Star Trek'-like utopia." We'll never make it if we're a society that actually NEEDS to put a sign up reminding people that this is not their property and that they shouldn't leave trash here.

Chinatown, Boston, MA - 2002-05-05.

Another case of, "what's our business name, anyway?"

Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2002-04-17

...Same here, apparently.

Note also the unusual use of capital letters in the word "WaSH."

Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA - 1992

Help Wanted: Copy editor (What's the name of this former print shop?) This sign had been here for at least eight years!

In April, 1999, This store got a new awning... and the name still didn't match!

Some time after 2000, the store finally closed.

Filene's, Galleria Mall, Cambridge, MA - 2002-05-22.

Two words that (especially these days) Should NOT go together!


Home Depot, Watertown Mall, Watertown, MA - 2002-05-09

What does "We Install" mean?

What does "FREE" mean?

File this under Misused Quotations.

Downtown Crossing, Boston, MA - 2002-04-30.

Sure, I'm not the only one who doesn't know when to properly use the word "comprised" or "comprises" versus "composed," but I know for sure, this is not the way to use "comprises."

Is this store "composed of" five jewelers? Or should it be that five jewelers "comprise" this store? I'm so confused.

Bar, Malden, MA - 2002-01-16

Lazy jerks don't bother to take down the sign, even four days after the "Johnny and Po Boys" have left town!

Chinese Restaurant, Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA - 2002-01-19

One item caught me by surprise when I first read through this menu.

OfficeMax, Brighton, MA - 2002-01-19

You can't enter this exit, so why is it called an exit?

Why is it called entering when you're exiting this store?


Adams Morgan district, Washington, DC - 2001-01-08

Somehow I don't usually think of carry-out when I think of French food. I wonder what the French would think of this place.

Shreve, Crump and Low, Boston, MA - 2002-03-29

No, this is not a vision test. This is a sign inside the store. Unfortunately, their technique of placing the lettering on a pane of glass, separated from the background and lit from above, makes for a hard-to-read Directory.

Grossman's Bargain Outlet, Malden, MA - 2002-03-18

What I love about this place is that you can find so much cheap stuff that's perfectly good, except for small defects.

In this case, someone goofed bigtime and accidentally made all these white shelving units black.

Grossman's Bargain Outlet, Malden, MA - 2002-03-18

"Do Not Do Not Open Boxes...."

File this under "Double Negative."


Car Window Sticker, Boston Area - 2001-11-04

I don't know why this attracted my attention, but it occurred to me that this window sticker is written somewhat backwards, or with the text written in the wrong relative sizes.

I might design it with the Colorado State University logo more prominent, followed by the word "Alumni" and finally the program from which this alum graduated, in smaller letters.

CinemaSmith, Harvard St., Brookline, MA - 2001-11-04

Sullivan Tire, Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA - 2001-11-17



You gotta watch it when you try to get 'cutesey' with your signage.

I didn't realize for a long time that this car care company in Boston wasn't called "Sullivan's Tire" or "Sullivans Tire," because I thought that the graphic in the middle was an 's.'

The s-shaped graphic used by the Brookline movie store is similar, but it's pretty evident that the place is not called "Cinema Mith."

And then there's...



Whiskey's Bar & BBQ 885 Boylston St., Boston, MA - 2001-12-04

You are what you drink. Unfortunately, I'm unqualified for this job, since I'm more experienced as a beer than as a cocktail.

Suffolk Law School Book Store, Boston, MA - 1999-11-29

Looks more like a law school for bookstores.

Now there's specialization!

Boston Logan Airport - 1999-11-10

Does anything really need to be said about this these days?

Fleet Bank, Stop and Shop, Allston, MA. - 2001-10-24

I've been going to this bank for weeks, and nobody has been able to figure out how to set the date and time on this rather prominent animated LED sign. Apparently corporate HQ needs to send them a special CD-ROM to install on their computer which interfaces with the sign. Geez!

Boston University Parking Lot, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA - 2001-11-04

YOU figure it out. I couldn't be certain if I could park here or not, even when someone else there said I could. There was no attendant there on the Sunday I tried.

Harvard St., Brookline, MA - 2001-11-04

Clever, Clever! What a nifty gimmick, to put a Brookline Highway Department detour sign in front of your store to draw in the public.

That must be what this sign is for, since it's not placed anywhere a motorist is likely to see it, if there were a road detour anywhere nearby.

Jeep™ Bumper Sticker, Manchester, NH - 2001-10-14

This means that Jeeps aren't very popular with consumers? Maybe they should stop building them, then.

Here in New England at least, it seems a lot of us prefer Subaru to Jeep (myself included).

Big Dogs store, Rte. 3, Tilton, NH - 2001-10-14

Why the lack of consistency in this list of clothing departments at this store?

What's wrong with "Youth's" (or "Youths'"), "Toddler's" (or "Toddlers'") and "Infant's" (or "Infants'")?

Why is it "Kid's" instead of "Kids'," if it is also "Men's" instead of "Man's?"

Store, Church St., Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-31

Yet another unique combination of product lines.

Wine Region, Southern Ontario, Canada - 2001-09-03

Luxury Condos? Where... up that steep dirt road? Maybe with your SUV you could get there, I suppose.

Jewelry Vendor Booth, Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-30

As opposed to... what? Car jewelry?

Condo Renovations, Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-29

Suffice to say that there is danger at this Courtland Engineering construction site... somewhere. If I only knew what the danger was!

Restaurant/Bar, Church St., Toronto, Canada - 2001-08-29

No kidding. Thanks for that useful bit of information, doofus.

Building, Rte. 99, Everett, MA - 2001-09-10

The sign reads "Copper and more brass aluminum," doesn't it?

Chalk this up to lack of punctuation and improperly placed words. Next time, get a professional to paint your sign, huh?

Car Parts Store, Moody St., Waltham, MA - 2001-09-05

If the owner wants the door closed, why put a 10 Lb. rim in front as a door stop?

AmVets Store, Allston, MA - 2001-10-04

File this under inappropriate emphasis.

Waltham Plaza Strip Mall, Waltham St., MA - 2001-08-26

As viewed from within the parking lot, the back of this "Entrance" sign touts that the driveway it marks is neither an entrance, nor an exit. Why not have it say "Do Not Exit?"


Waltham Plaza Strip Mall, Waltham St., MA - 2001-08-26

Quick... you're driving along Waltham St. and want to go shopping. Which of these driveways is the entrance, and which is the exit? Will you drive head-on into a car exiting the parking lot or not?

Ironically, this shopping plaza recently put in these new signs that face outward, instead of toward oncoming traffic. They replaced more appropriate and clearer signs, similar to the ones at a plaza across the street, pictured below:

Directional Sign, Belmont St., Belmont, MA - 2001-08-14

They may look cute and stylish, but these skinny little arrows with tiny arrow heads can't be read from across the intersection where a motorist is likely to need to see which way to go to follow the sign.

Bumper Sticker - Waltham, MA - 2001-08-25

Okay, I'll hang out my liberal flag here and be political for a moment: You "Right to Lifers" just don't understand, do you?!?

What in tarnation makes you think that just because you were born, your mother was "Pro-Life" ?!?!

More likely than not, she was "Pro-Choice" and decided to bless the world with your presence, regardless.

Chiropractic / Orthopedic Office - Allston, MA - 2001-08-17

"Immediate Appointments?" Isn't that a contradiction?

I figure a place like this either takes reservations for appointments or accepts walk-ins, but as far as I know, there's no such thing as an immediate appointment.

And why does the sign say "Advanced Spine Centers?" This is only one center of several, owned by Associated Healthcare Group (380 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148).

Former Boston Market - Allston, MA - 2001-08-22

Apparently, they're not doing very well at this location.

(2002/03: I had hoped McDonald's wouldn't completely screw up this otherwise decent and unique restaurant chain, now that they're the parent company. Unfortunately, my worst fears are being realized: This and the other two closest locations to me have been closed. This particular location is now, guess what... a McDonald's).

Rest Area, I-90, New York / Massachusetts - 2001-07-31

Well isn't that refreshing: d'angelo's (Papa Gino's Corp) takes over a former McDonald's!

2002/03: Actually: Even more refreshing, I found out that McDonald's is opening several Boston Market restaurants along the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90)... even though some of them are combination McDonald's/Boston Markets (Can't wait to see that abomination).

U.S. Post Office - Edinboro, PA (16412) - 2001-07-30

This is my old home town's new post office. On my first visit there recently, I drive into the parking lot and turn right, following the arrow pointing to spots in front of the building.

It wasn't until I tried to leave that I discovered the pickle I was in. Notice the "Do Not Enter" sign opposite the arrow pointing directly toward it.

My original home town, Edinboro, PA - 2001-07-30

Why? Why are two stop signs necessary on one post like this?

Is one sign for drivers in cars and the other for drivers in SUVs?

Are you supposed to stop twice? Twice as long? What? Why!?!

My original home town, Edinboro, PA - 2001-07-30

Imagine my shock at seeing this sign, and then trying to figure out what it really meant.


Grainger parking lot, Watertown, MA - 2004-12-01

Faded and/or painted over. Not fair.

Gas Station, Somewhere in MA - 2001-08-04

Would somebody please explain what this means?

What is it they're trying to prevent people from doing, and why are people doing it?


Odds-and-ends store, Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2001-07-24

"Surveilance Camara?"

Wrong on both parts, doofus.

Then again, it's probably a plastic prop camera.

Mandarin Restaurant, Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2001-08-06

I saw this new restaurant in town. I stopped in to check it out and pick up a menu. The first thing I noticed was the decor: distinctly not Chinese. I recognized it as Korean style and recognized the wonderful smells of Korean cuisine.

So how did they pick the name "Mandarin?"

Denny's Restaurant, Rochester, NY - 2001-07-31

There are only 24 hours a day, so what does "OPEN 24 Hrs. DAILY" mean? This sign is redundant in more ways than one.

"Always Open" would be much simpler.

Another Denny's Restaurant, Rochester, NY - 2001-07-31

Perhaps this answers the question from the first Denny's photo.

Unfortunately, "Do to mait Problems," I had to go several miles up the road to the other Denny's (it being after 11:00pm).

Just a reminder that you don't need to be literate to be "Mangment."


Rest area, Interstate 90 - 2001-07-31

A) Of course, this isn't an entrance. It's a trash can!

B) They put this sign on the trash can and then move the trash can out into the middle of the parking lot instead of somewhere near something that it is supposed to point out is not an entrance.

Lower Village Market & Deli, Rte. 175, Campton, NH - 2001-08-09

"Cookie" must have messed-up the soup du jour yesterday, so I guess they're serving HIM today.

"I'll have my chef medium rare, please."

Ashland, NH - 2001-08-09

A bit young to be calling them "Warriors," eh?

They've actually got a football team?


Snowy Owl Inn, Town Square, Waterville Valley, NH - 2001-08-11

This old post box in the lobby of our hotel would have been more quaint -- and useful -- if it wasn't festooned with all these notices against actually using it for mail.

And why not, anyway?

Museum of Science, Boston, MA - 2001-04-13

Okay, just an honest spelling error, but I wonder how long it's been here and how long it will stay uncorrected.

Galen St., Watertown, MA - 2001-06-18

Aaaaaarrrrgh! -- What the hell is this supposed to mean? These are clearly parking spaces, so why is there a "No Parking" sign pointing toward them?!?

Arlington, MA - 2001-05-10

Where does it say parking is permitted at all between 7pm and 9am? I'm always afraid to assume I'm allowed to park during hours not indicated on signs like this.


Irish Pub, Inman Square, Somerville, MA - 2001-05-31

I walk into this bar, The Druid, in the late afternoon / early evening, because I'm looking for live entertainment and I see the sign advertising the band for "tonight."

So I go in and ask about the specifics of time, type of music and cover charge. The bartender informs me that the sign was for the previous night's performance, and that there was no entertainment "tonight."

When I suggested that he take the sign down, he declined, and didn't seem very impressed by my further suggestion that it was pretty silly to leave the sign up after the performance.

I've called The Druid several times to mention this incident to the owner, but he's never in, and whoever answers the phone repeatedly and rudely refuses to even tell me who the owner is.


Grove & Belmont Sts., Belmont, MA - 2001-05-12

This used to be the only convenience store in our neighborhood, until it was taken over by the neighboring business some time in December, 2000. The whole community is really sorry to see it go out of business. The interior is being gutted and walls knocked down between storefronts to expand the pharmacy.

But you'd think that the first thing they would do is take down the sign that says "Giordano's"

Porter Square, Cambridge, MA - 2001-06-01

Now why would a white taxi bearing a Yellow Cab sign have a window sticker advertising drivers wanted for Green Cabs?

Malden, MA - 1999-11-29
A contradiction in terms.

A) Market: A regular size place to buy groceries.

B) Supermarket: A big place to buy groceries.

C) Superette: Huh?


Convenience Store, North End, Boston, MA - 2001-06-16
Such nice people at this store.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, Allston, MA - 2001-04-25


Newbury St., Boston, MA - 2001-04-06

Curious wording. Well, I guess everything will be going regardless of whether it is purchased during the sale or is moved to the new location.

Restaurant, Route 9, Natick (?), MA - 2000-09-23

Sushi, American and Italian food all at one place... outside of Manhattan?

And I suppose there's a word for "Sushi" in Chinese, but like most Americans, I wouldn't recognize it if I saw it written. I guess that's why they call it Chinese Sushi... unless of course there's no such thing as Chinese Sushi. At least I don't think I've ever eaten it. Is it Chinese Sushi if the chef is Chinese? If the fish is Chinese?

My brain hurts.

Barber Shop, Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2000-10-06

They speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and... UNIX?

U.S. Post Office, Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2000-12-05

Same... two days later.


Red and Green mail segregated?

When I first saw this during the holidays a few years ago, I was curious (I hadn't seen a sign like this since my first visit to the Carolinas many years ago; a momentary shock for me, to see paper recycling bins labeled "Colored Only" and "White Only"). Actually, it was explained to me that it is more difficult for the automatic sorting equipment to read addresses written on these holiday colors. So the U.S.P.S. tries to separate them in advance, to speed sorting by hand.

Well, one day this year I saw these signs, as seen in the top photo. At the time, I was holding a stamped white envelope that I wanted to send to a non-local domestic address. Unfortunately, the slot formerly designated for this 'regular' mail had been reassigned for holiday use.

I guess someone else discovered this predicament as well, since two days later the signs had been moved, as in the bottom photo. What I don't understand is why they had to 'lose' a slot, since there is that extra unused slot near the top, right.

Barber Shop, Harvard Ave., Allston, MA - 2000-10-06


(Actually, this store never reopened)


Used Junk Store, Moody St., Waltham, MA - 2000-12-23

This store has not one, but two sets of double doors. This door has the "Pull" sign and the "Open" sign on it. Unfortunately, it's the pair of doors to the right of these signs that are actually unlocked. Yes, I see now that someone had penned-in the faint black arrow on the "Open" sign, but that was only after I had already pulled the handle on this door.

So why not just move these signs to the unlocked doors!??!


Automatic Teller Machine Machine

(The sign would be better written as "ATM Available Inside" or "Automatic Teller Machine Available Inside")

Zeff Photo, Belmont, MA - 2000-08-22

What of Trade-in's do they take?

(File this under misused apostrophes)

------> External Link: For more fun bizarreness,
check-out the
Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks! <-----

Economy Hardware, Allston (Boston), MA - 2003-07-18

(More misused apostrophes)

Santa Monica, CA - 2000-08-26

Dude! Garage Sale. Sweeeeet!

I've never seen a garage sale described as "luscious" before. Then again, this person has got the concept wrong, too, if they're selling "New Stuff."

Santa Monica, CA - 2000-08-26

Only in America.

Chicago, IL - 2000-06-12

I see this way to frequently: Signs and ads that not only overemphasize, but also emphasize using inappropriate markings. Let me elaborate:

- "DO NOT" (Placing words in quotation marks gives the wrong message. It signifies that the quoted words are "not quite" or "so-called," etc. For instance, "FREE" or "FRESH" in quotes, alerts people to look carefully at the offer or ad; maybe look for an asterisk or small print disclaimer).

- ACCEPT... (Why the ellipsis here? One might expect the ellipsis to be used like a colon, with a list to follow of things they don't accept, but there's only one thing they don't accept according to this sign).

- DO NOT ACCEPT... (underlining this text, combined with an arbitrarily executed two-color scheme and punctuation marks on this sign distracts readers from its message).

------> External Link: For more fun bizarreness,
check-out the
Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks! <-----

Chicago, IL - 2000-06-12

Holy Cow! Do people actually rationalize proceeding through an intersection like this? "Gee, their light is green; why can't I go, too?" or "This left arrow must be broken or something."

It's alarming that this sign is even necessary, especially given the signs in cities that are generally not present, but would be infinitely more useful.

Sunoco Gas Station, Route 91, near Hartford, CT - 2000-06-18

How about a subject for this sign? Maybe it's a poor foreign language translation?

Confucius say, "Please you to fuel always graciously."

Wyndham Hotel, Washington DC - 2000-05-15

Why do hotels write signs like this with the room numbers out of numerical sequence? When I'm looking for room 214, for example, I scan this sign as I go by, and nearly miss the fact that 214 is to the right, since I see the 215 and immediately conclude that it's too high a number to read the rest of the line. A psychological gotcha.

Instead, hotels frequently write these numbers in the sequence that you'll pass them heading in the indicated direction. Thus, when taking the right passage at this sign, room 215 is first on the left; 214 first on the right; 213 next on the left, etc.

Broadway (Rte. 99), Everett, MA - 2000-04-11

There are times when I marvel at the need to post signs for employees to remember important safety procedures. Then there are times when I marvel at their irrelevance. Notice that regardless of this sign, the operator of this high-lift van isn't using chock blocks.

Congress Street at State, Boston, MA - 2000-03-27

Even I didn't realize that this company hasn't been here apparently for several years. So why does the building still bear this inscription?

OfficeMax, Central Square, Cambridge/Somerville, MA - 2000-01-15

I hope there's no emergencies at this store.

The former Channel nightclub (R.I.P.), Boston, MA - 1993-06

Note to employees everywhere: the last thing you should do when you lock up at night is to TAKE DOWN THE "OPEN" SIGN!!! (I can't tell you how many times I see this.

This is usually an honest mistake. However, see below...

Diner (or Dinor), Malden, MA - 20-00-01-22

Another confusing pair of signs: "Open" and "Closed" simultaneously.

This diner has a permanent "OPEN" banner out in front that they never take down. I see these permanent banners and flags a lot, and still don't understand why (Are you listening, Bernie and Phyl?). Operations like this frustrate customers by confusing the concept of "now in business" with "now open to customers."

What's worse, this diner owner keeps putting a flashing strobe light in the window after hours. Why? To attract attention to the fact that they're closed?!?!

McDonald's, The Fenway, Boston/Brookline, MA - 2000-11-15

McDonald's deceptively lures cars in exactly the opposite of the correct direction with this sign. When I wanted to make a drive-through ("thru") order, I found myself facing oncoming drive-through traffic, instead of getting in line at the speaker.

AAAAAAAAHHHHH! What Gives Here!?


McDonald's, Central Square, Cambridge, MA - 1999-11-22

So I go into this McDonald's, having just parked the car, and say to the clerk, "Gee, I didn't realize you had a drive through. I'll use it next time instead." To which the reply is, "we don't have a drive through."

I pointed out the sign, but no employee had noticed it before, and odds are none had the authority or intelligence to do anything about it.

Westin Copley Place Hotel, Boston, MA - 1998-11-13

I was looking for the meeting rooms: The sign in the lobby (top) says they're on the 7th floor, but the elevator buttons (bottom) say they're on the 3rd floor. Meeting rooms are actually on the 7th floor, and the hotel employee I asked couldn't tell me the difference between a meeting room and a hospitality suite.

Park Street MBTA Station, Boston, MA - 1994-08

"Look Out Paint?" What's wrong with just "Wet Paint?" Heck, this is moot anyway, since most "Wet Paint" signs everywhere are left in place long after the paint is dry. File this under "Boy who cried wolf."

Lonestar Restaurant, Saugus, MA - 1999-10-02

It's October, already. The sign on the right should be taken down by now, I would think. Or did they put up the sign on the left three months too soon???

former Grocery Store, Malden, MA - 1999-10-01

Are those pumpkins the seedless kind?

Near the Post Office, Allston, MA - 1999-10-06

The U.S.P.S. has somehow become associated with the term "Going Postal," probably without real merit. But these bumper stickers and sign in the window of this car made me think for a moment.

Allston Car Wash, Allston, MA - 1999-02-20

They eat cars, do they? Inside out, maybe?

Store 24, Harvard & Brighton Aves., Allston, MA - 1999-05-27

Didn't the owner of this new store go to "Store 24 school?" To begin with, there's already a Store 24 at the next corner. Hey wait a minute... I think there's already two more around the corner! Do we need them so close? [File this under "Starbucks"].

And of course, I couldn't believe this sign in the shop window [File this under "Unclear on the concept"].

Warren St., Brighton, MA - 1999-06-01

Creative license? If you have something against descenders on lower-case letters, then don't use them, but kindly don't put an upper-case letter in the middle of my town's name.

Cambridge St., Allston, MA - 1999-05-15

Does this Professional Insurance Agent figure that the extra hour Monday through Friday adds up to a sixth day?

Manhattan Taxi, New York, NY - 1999-03-30

Another good idea gone horribly wrong. This is the view from INSIDE the cab... and the sticker is on the wrong side of the window.

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA - 1999-04-03

But I'm not even riding a bike!

Them Harvard folks sure are smart ones. Yes, it's a one-way street, but why is this sign directed particularly at cyclists? I don't think bikes are allowed on the sidewalk... but I'm sure it is a two-way sidewalk for pedestrians.

CompUSA, Market St., Brighton, MA - 1999-12-27

Another sign you can ignore... "Highland" went out of business a long time ago, and a new store occupies the building. What I don't understand is why the new store isn't concerned they are losing business by turning away customers who can't find a legitimate parking spot at the store?

Sunset Grill & Tap Restaurant, Allston, MA - 1999-02-26

I never could figure out why some businesses write telephone numbers with the 1- prefix. It's like they're not only assuming that customers don't know to dial the 1 for long distance, but also that all their customers are long distance.

Harvard & Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA - 1999-01-29

Yeah, sure!

Newbury St., Boston, MA - 1990-07

Uh, huh...

Harvard & Comm Aves., Allston, MA - 2001-05-12

There are currently two types of positions available:

1) Distributing these posters all over the place.

2) Removing the glut of posters cluttering up the environment.

Cornell University - 1998-10-21

Bravo for instituting a recycling program. Unfortunately, the recycling symbol does not belong on a non-recycling receptacle.

Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA - 1998-09-25

The Classic: "Back in 5 minutes." I truly loathe this, especially when the time interval reaches 15 minutes or so... because you never know when the time began, and therefore, what TIME to expect them back (I don't care how long they've been gone!).

Eye Q Optical, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. - 2000-07-12

Very precise... 8 minutes... but still irrelevant.

Convenience Store - 2003-11-18

Less precise... but in a way better.

Central Sq., Cambridge, MA - 1989

"Office For Space Rent???"

Central Sq., Cambridge, MA - 1994

Umm... why? (You couldn't let me know?)

Waltham, MA

Northwest Travel Group will sell you tickets, but won't tell you how to get there?

Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA - 1998-09-18

I'm pretty sure that the name of this establishment is the "Harvard Square Hotel," so why do their signs say "Harvard Hotel Square?" Maybe it's really "Hotel Harvard Square?" Either way, it doesn't look the way it looks like it should look.

Bayside Expo Center, Boston, MA - 1990-03

Duh! - Why do you think they call it a "slop" sink, anyway?

Tokyo Restaurant, Allston, MA - 1998-10-06

"We're adding a new ing"

Central Square, Cambridge, MA - 2001-04-09

Another missing "ing." But this time not only is it unclear if it is a Dunkin' Donuts or a Baskin Robbins restaurant that's being remodeled. Furthermore, whichever it is, the restaurant is already closed and has the building permit displayed in the window. I guess it's too much trouble to change the sign to "Reopening soon."

Concord Ave., Belmont, MA - 2001-06-30

Another missing "ing," at least on one of the signs. First of all, this Burger King is dwarfed and largely obscured by the "play land" structure built in front of the restaurant.

But the really absurd bit here is the new definition of "remodeling." In the lower photograph, you see that the "remodeling" going on here is really more of a "gutting" of everything except the roof. And even that has been stripped. Funny how they could take the shingles off the roof without removing the "Burger King" sign. Why not just demolish the whole structure and start from scratch?

Monterey, CA - 1998-09-02


Federal Courthouse, Boston, MA - 1991-09

That clarifies things!

Boston University - 1991-09

Notice both arrows pointing down?

(That reminds me of the elevators at the Christian Science headquarters I visited here in Boston. I noticed a red light and a white light next to each other above the elevator door. Which one is up and which one is down, I wondered. Suddenly it was clear: Red was down--hell--white was up--heaven. Ha!)

Gas Station, Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge, MA - 1994

Take your car to this custom shop? I don't think so.

World Trade Center, Boston, MA - 1994

Hoo, boy! Who's in charge of zoning here?

Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA - May, 1993

We traded MacWorld Expo for this?

Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA - 1998-10-15

Huh? Whose tailoring?

Shared Bathroom - Wellesley College, Wellesley - 2004-12-20

I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong: This is a one-seat-only lavatory.

Actually, it's mostly a filing room that happens to have a toilet and sink. Personally, I think this facility should be part of the tour on which the Development (fund-raising) department takes prospective major donors.



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