Guest Curmudgeon: Reading is Fundamental
This week's curmudgeoning duties have been taken over by a friend who is affectionately known within her circle as The Queen of Snark. I'm delighted that Queen Pamela has decided to grind this particular axe under the banner of my humble blog. As I've often said, if you have nothing nice to say . . . come sit by me. TWC
Enter. Exit. Push. Pull. Open. Closed. These things all seem self-explanatory, right? This guest curmudgeon runs a candy and gift store in a high-traffic tourist area off the Eastern Shore of Virginia/Maryland and not only are these simple directives not understood, they are scarcely even read. Words mean something. They tell a story, give direction, state a fact, and issue a warning. These simple words, none of them more than six letters, tell which door to go in or go out, and whether to push or pull said door in order to accomplish the in or out thing. “Open” and “closed” tell whether that door is going to be unlocked to allow the in/out and push/pull to occur. It’s important. By reading (it’s fundamental, y’all) those simple words, one avoids being made fun of unmercifully by those poor working folks who see it happen multiple times every . . . single . . . day.
The sign says “CLOSED.” The marquee sign reads “Open Daily at 10 a.m.” It’s 9:35 a.m. The opening staff is bleary eyed and a bit surly because the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. And the door rattles. A tourist, every bit a caricature, is seen waving and pointing at a watch. The staff does a collective eyeroll, sighs heavily and says loudly, in unison, “TEN A.M.” followed by several juicy insults a few decibels lower. It has begun. It may have sounded cute when the girl in Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” walked in through the “out” door. But imagine the giant cluster created by folks going in the “out” door when a large group of rule-abiding Mennonites are trying to leave the shop properly. It’s like negotiating Dupont Circle in the middle of rush hour, only 50% more polite. Customers and staff alike engage in grumbling, exclamations of wonder, exasperated sighs, head shakes, and face palms.
But this little confusion about in and out, push and pull, enter and exit has nothing on the absolute conundrum faced by these special folks trying to find the register. At the front of the store, over a register area that is raised six inches to make it more visible, a large sign hangs from the ceiling. It’s white with red lettering and it reads “Please Pay Here,” with arrows pointing down to the counter. In front of the register area, there are crowd control stanchions denoting the line and signs posted on those stanchions which read “Register Line Forms Here.” But the entire area must be covered with a Harry Potteresque invisibility cloak, because no one can seem to see it. The notion of setting up a stripper pole, strobe lights, and dancers has been floated, but was ultimately rejected only because doubts linger regarding the potential effectiveness, and our brains might be irrevocably damaged if we were to discover that no one knows where to look even when there are such things going on. Is this the inability to read or properly comprehend? Is it just inattention or distraction? Or is it an absurd unwillingness to actually use deductive reasoning skills to find the answer before blurting out stupidity to the universe? Once that level of stupid is out there, it’s out there, infecting those susceptible to taking on characteristics of idiocy. And more morons are not needed. If you, dear reader, are ever in the mood to moron hunt, prime season is summer around here, where a multitude of IQ-challenged dipsticks are waiting—people who go in the “out” door, can’t find a register or navigate a line even with arrows pointing the way (How long do you think these brainiacs were lost in the IKEA jungle?), and who stand pouting right in front of a locked door with a sign that clearly reads “Open at 10 a.m.,” unable to fathom why the store isn’t open at 9:35. The popcorn is fresh, just bring your own beer.