Homemade signs strive for change, but often fail
Funny how, despite the power of the digital age, the popularity of Twitter and YouTube and Facebook, the ease private citizens now have in getting their message out and having their voice heard, people still turn to a simple homemade sign in attempts to exert control in the world.
These signs are made with a very optimistic evaluation of the power of Sharpie-drawn letters on cardboard rectangles — the belief that these pithy pronouncements or admonishments will stop strangers from doing something or exert pressure on politicians, etc. For example, signs have been popping up on curbs in Honolulu neighborhoods:
“Please pick up your dog’s doo-doo.” There are variations on that doggy-doo theme, and some are angry and profane. The signs are low to the ground, presumably to catch the eye of the dog owner standing there, leash in hand, waiting for their Shar-Pei to finish the squat. In recent months, political protests have turned to clever, one-off handmade signs to attract attention, get news coverage, go viral and stay memorable. The protest marches where hundreds of people all carry the same professionally manufactured signs have become passe in favor of originality and wit. This week, an old familiar Portlock sign was back in the news. Years ago, some owners of Portlock beachfront homes tried to cut off public access to the beach in violation of state law. They put up a locked gate, and on that gate, a sign. And here it is again, a brewing battle between homeowners who want to preserve their private corner of paradise and the beach-going public saying, “Hey, you can’t do that.” New gate, same homeowner. New sign, same words.
The question is whether these earnest signs make an impact. Residents of Maunawili put up a sign handpainted on wood to warn tourists of the dangers of the trail to the waterfall.
For years, government did nothing, so neighbors in the area had to do it themselves.
Kauai’s famous Hamura Saimin has a hand-lettered sign posted that reads, “Please do not stick gum under the counter.”
One day, I made the mistake
of looking under the Hamura counter. Whoa. Do not look under the counter. There should be another sign to tell you that. Signs work only on some people. There are those who see a sign and think of it as merely a suggestion or something that may apply to everyone else but certainly not to them.
And there are some who see a sign and feel compelled to do the exact opposite.
“No parking” is a challenge. “Keep out” is a private invitation. “Do not ring the bell” makes them so itchy to ring the bell. Guess what’s often curled into a pile in the grass right next to the “Please pick up your dog’s doo-doo” signs? Yup.