Saturday, April 4, 2009

Signs, Signs, everywhere there's Signs

Four years ago, when I first moved into my present building, the previous business had a small sandwich board sign sitting down on the corner of Purcell and our access road across from Costco. One of the first things that we did was take that sign and repaint it with a coming soon sign for Jake's. I would have rather put the sign on Hwy 20 but felt that I should not rock any boats and left it where it was.

The sign gave immediate results with both TV and radio calling me to ask about the coming move. But, shortly thereafter, I received a call from the City of Bend. They asked me if that was my sign and I said yes. They told me that I needed to move it. When I explained why I had done what I had done, they informed me that they understood but that I needed to move it immediately as it had caused an accident. I laughed inside at that statement as my imagination brought up my sign reaching out and grabbing a motorist who in turn lost control of his car. I asked how the sign caused the accident, I was told that someone was reading it and hit someone else from behind. When I asked her how I could advertise legally that I was relocating, she asked me to move the sign over to Hwy 20 and then come on down to the office and purchase a temporary sign permit. I gladly agreed and immediately moved it out under what was to be our permanent sign on 20. I then went down that afternoon to submit the permit and pay for it. I sat in the waiting room patiently waiting for the sign man. It was getting close to five PM when someone noticed me again and asked me who I was waiting for. When I told them, they informed me that he had just left for the day. They took my permit and told me to wait until I had heard from him to pay for it.

Six weeks later, after we were up and running and our new permanent sign was in place, I was called by the city. They said that they were working on my temporary sign permit. "I don't really need it anymore.", I told them and let them know that my permanent sign was up and approved. The lady from the city told me not to worry and that she was just going to throw the permit away. I said, "OK".

Years ago, when the present day sign ordinance was put into place, I stood opposed to it's passing for various reasons one of which was the inability of a business to make it's sign stand out more so that it could be easier to see in a sea of signs and thus give the ability of the driver to keep his eye on the road more. I also felt that if a more stringent sign ordinance was put into place that businesses would figure out more creative ways to get their information out to the driver and that is exactly what we see out there today. We have the signs on vehicles such as ours which has now even progressed to the small billboards that some have put on the back and top of their various vehicles. We have people walking around in various funny outfits. And the unemployed hired to just stand on the corner and hold up a sign for a various business alongside others who are just asking for help.

I have gotten a kick out of the latter from time to time with a few of the various creative ways that the pan handlers have used to generate funds. One man sat on a box down on Greenwood in a suit with his more professional looking sign in front of him. He had worked hard with stencils to make the sign and had put handles on the back to help hold it. The problem was as he sat there with a smile on his face greeting the cars that drove by was that he was holding the sign upside down.

Jerry, the homeless homeless helper had one of the more creative signs when he wrote "Smile" on one side and "God loves you" on the other. He would greet people with a toothless smile of his own while flipping the sign over and over.

But, yesterday brought a few smiles to my face as I drove around Bend in my moving sign handling various chores. As I drove out of Costco, I noticed a couple huddling seemingly blocking each other in the cold wind. She was holding a sign that was asking for help while his was advertising for a company that was offering loans that you did not need to qualify for. Does anyone else see the irony in that one?

Next, as we were driving down Third street, we came upon a man dressed like the Statue of Liberty. He was so cold that he was jumping around flipping his sign and you could not read what his message was. I assumed that it was for the tax service behind him that had a similar looking sign on the building.

But, the one that brought the best laugh to us was down in front of the north Albertsons. A man was standing with a sign down to his side being lectured by a woman who had her finger in his chest while she barked out her pearls of correction in a seemingly demonstrative way. The man was squirming under her chastisement and I noticed his sign as he stood with his head down listening to her that read, "Why lie, I just want a beer". I told Judy what it read and she laughed. "Honey, we need to go get him a beer.", she said. When I asked why, she returned, "He is going to need one after she gets done with him.".

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