Thursday, 10 February 2011

Please Utilise Alternative Facility

Notice on loo door at railway station this afternoon:

This toilet is not at present in use.
Please use an alternative cubicle.
Thank You

Fifteen words there, when three would've done:

Not in Use

Why do they have to spell it all out so? We would not expect to be told:

This toilet is not at present in use.
Please shit on the floor.

We don't throw a fit and hammer on the locked up lock-up, screaming 'but I wanted to use this one!' We accept that instead of kicking down the door, we really ought to use the adjacent khazi.

I wouldn't be surprised if drafting the notice was entrusted to this announcer, in the belief that he has a way with words. It's him all over.

Similar over-explicit instructions that take their target audience for cretins appear all over the university. A wash basin in the loo is out of order, so we are instructed to use an 'alternative' one, as though we might otherwise stand there with poopy hands, paralysed with indecision. Notices next to the lifts asks us to cede our places to the disabled, pregnant and elderly, rather than elbow such Untermenschen out of the way, as we normally would. We are reassured that 'stairs nearby provide access to upper floors', so that's a relief; ropes and hard hats will not be necessary. All we need now is clarification from management of the hopelessly subjective 'nearby', which will be interpreted differently by the young and fit, those with a leg in plaster, the pregnant and the elderly. Until this is forthcoming, the growing crowds of irresolute students and staff will continue to pose a threat to health and safety on every landing.

Directly above the urinals (these are in the gents, not the lifts, thought I had better make that clear to less agile minds) is a laminated notice, the footer of which is just at my eye-level, and whilst I am 'utilising this facility' the words 'The Power is in Your Hands' confront me.

'You better fuckin' believe it!' I snigger - then I realise it's one of those dumb bird-flu posters telling you how to sneeze.


By the way, these instructions on considerate sneezing must be by-passing quite a few of our international students. Muslims do not use the urinals - modesty requires that they use the cubicles. Chinese boys, on the other hand, rarely pee alone, and they don't merely undo their zips, they all but untruss, undoing belt, button and fly and flopping out the bit and tackle over their Calvins for the others to appraise. Official announcements on approved sternutatory protocol therefore go unnoticed - deservedly, in the face of such competition. I have not yet observed the micturational foibles of other nations, but shall be doing so, and will publish my findings in due course.


Uncutplus said...

That reminds me of the urinals in which they painted a little fly, where one should be aiming. Apparently that led to much cleaner surroundings!

Fionnchú said...

Given do-gooder sensitivity in academia & bureaucracy, and in corporate ranks fearful of litigation, we all revert to cave-persons without earnest hand-holding. Via multicult pictorial inclusive groupthink, we'll be globally regressing from print (so discriminatory if not in eighteen languages & braille?) to stick figures of all colors, preferences, genders, headgear, abilities, heights, and weights.

Diarmuid said...

And what to make of those notices that announce themselves rather pompously with the words, "POLITE NOTICE"? So perturbed was I by this phenomenon (akin to me starting this piece of writing with the words, "HOPEFULLY HUMOUROUS OBSERVATION") that I was driven to the altar of Google to see if they had any legal value. I have not been able to discover any as yet and would appreciate any help ("...AND REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION") that your vast army of readers might be able to offer. Where in God's name did this habit start? I like to imagine that it was somewhere in the Home Counties.

Vilges Suola said...

The pictures are already here: in the toilets we have a series of little drawings in structing us in how to soap, wash and dry our hands.

'Polite notice'... don't know where it started, but it has spread even to Greece, where notices often start 'Thermi Paraklisi' = 'warm request', and this in a country where people can be jaw-droppingly rude.

Diarmuid said...

Has your institution had to put these up yet ( After years of complaints from the cleaners, ours is now beginning to give serious thought to the idea.

Vilges Suola said...

Haven't seen that sign for years. I first saw it in a language school in Cambridge in the early eighties, but not since. Our overseas sts must be wised up to western loos before they get here.


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