Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 28, 2016

Signifying: What Does This Mean … Really?

You’ve seen them. The Web is awash in viral images of signs that are incongruously placed. They’re endlessly amusing: a deep trench dug in a road next to a pre-existing sign that says “Bump;” a billboard promoting real estate loans standing on a building marked “condemned.” My favorite, from many, many years ago was outside an office building: “Birth Control Clinic patients use rear entrance.”


Sometimes, though, signs and messages simply make us say, “What in the world? Why is THAT there?” or simply, “What is the meaning of THAT?”

Here are two.

First, in the Walteria section of Torrance, California along Pacific Coast Highway, ten miles or so from me, this sign lists the businesses in a shopping center:


Four restaurants, several ways for you to be groomed (as well as your pet), massaged, shaped up, taught math and test skills, among others.

Look in the top third of the left hand side of the sign:


Blitzkreig Preschool? Now, what sort of parent sends their child there? What do they learn? The mind reels.

However, rest easy. I looked into it. Those are two separate businesses. There’s a preschool (in the U.S., that’s typically 5 years old or younger) and “Blitzkreig” sells and rents computer games and software. Whew.

One of my favorite, all-time, “What the heck?” messages was in the break room of the office where I worked. In keeping with the general decline of Western Civilization, our good old coffee machines with pre-packaged coffee grounds that went into filters and used the drip method to produce drinkable if not tasty coffee were, you guessed it, replaced with the dreaded K-cup machines. Yes, a mysterious sealed capsule containing some unknown substance (in delightful flavors like vanilla creme mint hazelnut supreme) that you shoved into a slot, pressed a button for “regular,” “extra dark,” “expresso,” “capuccino,”  or “surprise me” and black liquid resembling something brewed with water from the River Styx dribbled into a cup. Taste? Yes, it had taste. This is a G-rated blog, and my own rules don’t permit me to describe what that taste was.

In any case, thanks to advances in technology, the coffee machine had an LCD screen. While you waited for the infernal machine to do its work, you got a little message on the screen to help you while away the time.


What? Is that something I need to know? Is that useful information? I’m being marketed to AFTER I’ve already made a selection? Did some bozo in the product marketing department think I’d actually believe that the odor in the room resembled fresh-brewed coffee if they simply TOLD me it did?

Perhaps I’d have been less irritated if there’d been a comma between “perfect” and “freshly.” Perhaps. Or if the sentence ended with a period!

Whoever thought I was dumb enough to believe something just because it showed up on a screen should’ve run for president. Someone would’ve voted for them.

© Brad Nixon 2016

For more in the Signifying series, see the Categories section in the right-hand navigation.


  1. I love reading your posts about signs; always entertaining!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s enough stuff like that out there to occupy one full time. Glad you enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I sense a bit of heat and steam emanating from the top of the writer’s head.

    It has been said that people will believe anything in writing. I wonder why that is the case. Someone should conduct a study. There is ample material for the project. Like 25,000,000 voters here 🇺🇸 and a few million more in Britain 🇬🇧.


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