Thursday, April 9, 2009

On The Importance of Signage to the Proper Functioning of the Modern Workplace

This week, there was a new sign posted above the coffee machine in the office kitchen:

NOTICE
AS A COMMON COURTESY TO YOUR CO-WORKER'S, IF YOU TAKE THE LAST CUP OF COFFEE, MAKE A NEW POT OF COFFEE!

The emphasis (underlines! caps! exclamation points!), as well as the possessive 's', is that of the author, whoever that may be. This is the newest in a series of notes that have been posted and taken down throughout the course of my stay at this company.

Notes have a tendency to pop up around here from time to time. Evidently someone (or some people) feels that it is necessary to inform everyone of proper office etiquette through the posting of creative and expressive signage throughout the office. I'm usually fine with this. If someone feels that the "putting cottage cheese containers in the refrigerator that's only supposed to hold cans and bottles" crisis is so important as to necessitate the creation of a sign, then so be it.

But some of this is just excessive. I'll give you an example:

There is also a printed digital photo of the sink sponge sitting in a coffee cup right above where the sink sponge is supposed to sit in a coffee cup. There is also a coffee cup there. The idea is that everyone will see the picture, see the coffee cup, and then put the sink sponge in the coffee cup when they are done with it.

The message is: "Hey, don't leave the sponge in the sink!" The execution, though, is a picture that even blithering idiots can understand.

Do blithering idiots work here? I know there's an office asshole somewhere around here, but no blithering idiots.

It's like someone went to the sink and said "Oh my God, somebody left the sponge in the wrong freaking place! Don't people know that there is only one proper place for the sponge to be, and that all other possible places are unacceptable?! What the hell is wrong with these idiots that they can't put the sponge where it is supposed to - nay - longs to be?! I'm going to teach there people a humorous lesson! Where's my camera?!"

Which leads me to believe that the whole sign phenomena has less to do with informing coworkers about the correct way to behave in a communal atmosphere and more to do with expressing the creator's distaste and superiority over other people.

When you are in an environment where you have to cooperate with people, regardless of whether or not you like them, I think people look for means to express that aggression or distaste or whatever unpleasant emotion that they have pent up inside of them.

And instead of gossiping around the office or going home and shouting at your pet cactus Bruce (and yes, I have a little pet cactus named Bruce) about how stupid everyone is, some people find expression through these little signs.

That's just my theory. Thanks for listening, Bruce.

3 comments:

Jenna said...

yeah, i was just down in my office's coffee room and there's no signs (except a minimum wage poster from 1988 to make us think we're overpaid), no creamers and two stale pat n' oscars breadsticks "up for grabs" down there. so, you know... same thing, i guess.

Nat Topping said...

That would be a statement of a completely different kind. Still, mmmmm... stale breadsticks.

Chris Othic said...

I think at writer's meetings I'm going to start adopting this method. I will put one sign on the table that says "Place FUNNY scripts HERE" and another that says "Place NAT'S scripts HERE."

Or, if you didn't get that, I was saying that your scripts aren't--oh, never mind! Get my own blog.