Monday, June 29, 2009

Signs, Signs Everwhere a Sign

Why do so many people think the rules don't apply to them? I ask this after playing in a golf tournament this weekend--and seeing guys chipping onto the practice green--which was surrounded by signs that said "NO CHIPPING". I could understand if there was just one sign facing the opposite direction from where these guys were chipping--but there were at least five signs covering every direction around the green. And I swear one guy was literally chipping balls over one of the signs itself.

I notice this sort of thing all over the place. I make several trips to the grocery store every week to pick up a few fresh things each time. That means I usually go through the Express Lane. In many cases there is someone with a suspiciously large number of items in their carts ahead of me. Since the sign at the register clearly says "15 Items or Less"--I count the number of items that person puts on the conveyor. You would be surprised how many times its more than 15. In many cases its more than 20. Maybe we have some mathmatically-challenged people here in Oshkosh--but 23 is not even close to 15. It's more likely that those people think the rules don't apply to them.

Smokers are good ones for ignoring signs as well. We have a sign on the door behind our building telling smokers to put their butts in the ashcan provided for them outside. Do you know what is littering the ground right underneath that sign? That's right, cigarette butts. Some are literally lying less than six inches from the ashcan. Another of my favorites is the the group of smokers huddled outside the building where they work smoking right in front of the "NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA" signs. Maybe they think the rule doesn't apply in cold or rainy weather.

So why do people routinely ignore warning signs and so many rules? Maybe it's because there is no repercussions for breaking them. Do you think anyone would have been chipping on the practice green this weekend if a tournament official came over and told one person they were disqualified? Or if a course worker had taken the chipped balls off the green and threw them in the woods? Would Miss 24-items in the Express Lane delay things for the rest of us if she was made to decide which nine items she would not be allowed to buy? Or if she had to take the extra items back and return them to the shelves herself? And how many smokers would throw their butts on the ground if they had to pick them up with their teeth?

You may think that this is all small beans and who cares if someone ignores a sign or a rule? But this is just another symptom of the lack of personal accountability in our society today. If we don't care about the "small stuff" we will eventually not care about the big stuff--like paying your debts, taking care of yourself and making sound business decisions so you don't need a big government bailout. Oops, looks like we may have moved past caring about those as well.


  1. Jonathan, you have it right.
    I understand that some things are not going to make or break our entire society but where do you draw the line at which you just let things go? The rules and laws are there for a reason, period.

  2. Interesting choice of title. That old song took the point of view that we should disobey signs and their rules, that their rigid strictures were an affront to our humanity, blah blah blah. YOU and your point of view (which I share BTW) were what that song criticized.