Streets, restaurants, airports, office buildings, even forests have them. Signs. They’re all around us: explaining, warning, directing, clarifying, confusing. In fact, signs are so ubiquitous that oftentimes we simply don’t even see them. Other times, there are signs we wish we could unsee; signs that make no sense whatsoever, and signs that have failed to do the one job they had so hard, they’re actually winners!
Some of the failures are due to spelling errors and typos; others fail because of poor, thoughtless placement and still others fail simply because two (very important) light bulbs have gone out. Whatever the reason, it’s become one of the internet’s favorite pastimes: judging and laughing at #signfails. Here, for all your headdesk glory, are 15 signs who had one job - and totally failed.
15 This Lying Liar
Imagine this sitch: You’re looking for parking. You spot a sign that assures you everything will be A-okay if you leave your car there. You’re a conscientious citizen who follows the rules so you believe the words on the sign. Only to return to your car two hours later to find a a ticket jutting from your windshield. Hey sign! That’s so not fine. Instagram user @channebelle1 spotted this signage failure and you have to wonder: Where in the logistics chain did it all go wrong? Did the copywriter drop the very important “d”; did some guy at the printing company think it would be hilarious? What about the person who put up the sign? Did they realize and not care? So many questions, so few answers.
14 This Neon Sign
Most major religions and moral people of the world agree on two things: Pizza is the food of all gods and, be kind to thy neighbor. This grocer in Salt Lake City, on the other hand, has unintentionally taken a different approach: Go ahead and harm your neighborhood grocer, guys! Of course, we all technically understand that this is simply an unfortunate way the neon lights in their sign decided to die. OR IS IT? Could Harmon Grocers actually be Jedi marketers? Are they actually playing 3D chess while the rest of us are playing Candy Crush? Think about it. One way to harm a neighborhood grocer would be to throw all sorts of veggies like tomatoes, or eggs, or toilet paper at it. And where do you buy those things? At the grocer. Woah, they're evil geniuses.
13 This Revenge Sign
Bicycles to the left, cars to the right. Thwack, splash! I’m betting that the person who put up this sign didn’t make a “mistake.” Instead, he is most definitely a cyclist who, after way too many near-death experiences at the hands of motorists, took matters into his own hands. First, he conducted hours of research in a dark room to discover who exactly is in charge of putting up streets signs in Montreal, Canada. Then, he applied to work in that department (obviously creating a fake identity with relevant fake work experience.) He didn’t stop there. Our hero dressed up as a U.P.S guy to gain entry into the building, swipe all the other application forms so his would be the only one in the running. He gets the job and finally after three years of scheming, of planning, of pretending to be someone else by wearing a wig, the stars align perfectly and he made his move. There is no other explanation for this. NONE.
12 This Brain Twister
This sign reminds me of that one time I bought a pair of scissors. When I got home from the store and whipped it out of the bag, I realized there was no way I could release the scissor from its packaging. In fact, the instructions on the back advised to, “Cut cords with scissors.” My brain melted for a few minutes and I thought to myself, “This doesn’t make any sense. I must be reading it wrong. Maybe, I’m an idiot?” This is the way I imagine anyone who wants to enter this space in Mukilteo, Washington feels when looking at this sign. Do not enter at this entrance only. You had one job, sign! To identify an entrance. And now people are standing beneath you questioning their sanity. Not cool.
11 The One Where There Are Zombies
New Zealand. Land of middle earth and apparently, the first place where zombies will rise up against living and breathing humans. But did you ever think that innocent children would be the ones to trigger the Apocalypse? (Okay, dumb question: anyone who has spent even 10 minutes with children who have consumed their body weight in chocolate know that of course the end of the world as we know it will begin with them). Seriously though, all this sign had to do was inform drivers to go slow because kiddies might dash out. Instead, the citizens of Greytown now believe there are slow-moving dead children wandering around their village looking for brains to eat. If that doesn’t make you put your foot on the gas pedal, I don’t know what will?
10 This Honest Sign
Speaking of children, this sign for a dentistry in Florida will make them all run away screaming. How does a parent, who has spent the last two weeks preparing their kid for a fear-free trip to the dentist, explain that, “Yes love, we’re going to Dr. Payne, but it won’t hurt, pinky promise.” Screw that, I’m an adult and I wouldn’t believe it. Listen up dentists across the world: tooth pain is real and dentist appointments are a struggle. The main reason we don’t visit every six months like you recommend is because we try to avoid pain as much as possible. So even if your family name is Payne and you’re proud of your heritage, please change it. Maybe, don’t focus so much on the physical consequences of visiting you and remind us that we might get lollipops after or that you guys have TVs on ceilings!? Who doesn’t like a TV on a ceiling? Uh, that would be no-one.
9 This Reassuring One
Do you love hiking through fields, forests and generally taking the road less traveled? Then we’ve got the safest place on earth where you can do exactly that! This sign on a private property in Tinahely, Ireland, reminds all visitors (er, or is it trespassers, it’s hard to tell) that this is a terror-free zone. How? No one is allowed to hunt or shoot you! The sign says so. Yaaasss! How relieved are you right now? This is also a dependable sign because it will most definitely, for sure sure, deter any would-be serial killers whose M.O is hunting humans. Just kidding, serial killers don’t pay attention to signs. (Or rules, laws, or common decency really!) And someone wasn’t paying attention when writing this sign either.
8 The Not-So-Secret Sign
The only way three people can keep a secret is if two of them are dead. Or so said, diplomat, writer, inventor, scientist and #humblebragger Benjamin Franklin. Poor Ben would probably turn over in his grave if he knew of the existence of this sign in Cornelius, Oregon. Population: 12K plus. That’s a lot of deaths to keep one sale covert, you guys! Here’s the thing: if you want to run a secret sale, don’t emblazon it across your parking lot in such a bright yellow astronauts on the International Space Station are like, “Hello earthlings! Did you know that Murphy’s Furniture Store is having a sale? Don’t tell anyone else though, it’s supposed to be hush-hush.” But for reals, the very existence of this sign is a massive fail.
7 The Scary One
What is it with the signs in Oregon? This next one in Hillsboro had one job and failed. In fact, this secured area better get a new sign and fast, because we all know the common adage, “When God keeps a door unlocked at all times, thieves get ideas.” That may not be an accurate quote, but this sign is scrambling our hard drive. First of all, what’s inside Room B50? And why is it a secured area? It’s one thing if it’s simply the storage area for the company’s accounting files. It’s quite another if this is the room where the Center of Disease Control and Prevention keeps the last vial of smallpox in the world. Lock your doors, people. And change your signage. Kthnxbai.
6 The One That’s Ready To Become A Conspiracy Theory
Don’t mean to start a controversial thing here, but it kind of makes sense that this failure of a sign was spotted in Washington D.C.: home of politics and pro-spinning the truth. If you’ve been on this planet longer than 25 years, you will have realized by now that you can’t fully trust politicians. Or at least, you have to learn to read both the fine print and between the lines. It appears that this behaviour is rubbing off on street signs in the capital as well. It might be informing you that you’re allowed to park here for two hours. But if you really count, it’s only one hour. Oh sure, they’ll find a reason to try and persuade you that they’re right (they always do). In this case, we’re pretty sure some poor press secretary would have to release an official statement arguing, “Who invented TIME anyway? Was it a shadow government? Could be, we just don’t know.” All the while the rest of the us are yelling, “It’s a damn typo, you loons.”
5 This Confused Sign
Here’s a sign that is doing it’s job just fine, but is failing anyway because whoever thought of the URL name didn’t think it all the way through. Sure, we get that the Seven Days Store is not the 24/365 Store but the Closed sign doesn’t know that, does it? He’s trucking along, sworn to fulfill his responsibilities to the best of his abilities only to discover that someone has made a liar out of him. Rude! Plus, he’s a sign - signs aren’t generally sentient. He should file suit. As for the customers, without any context (i.e. actual opening hours) this sign leads one to believe that the Seven Days Store is indeed open seven days….just, you know, not in a row. #umokay?
4 This Tip-Blocker
‘Fess up. We all have that one friend who we hope isn’t around when we meet a potential suitor! Because for reasons beyond us, they do everything in their power to thwart our flirting game. The person we’re thinking of doesn’t understand hints, won’t leave, and is the anti-wing-man/woman. This sign is the paper incarnation of that friend. How many tips have workers lost because customers are confused about the slot? “No hang on a minute, the sign says above, but there’s a slot below. Is that slot for tips or is it for trash? They wouldn’t make such a mistake, would they? ‘Eff it This is too hard.” Moral of the story: Placement matters. Don’t be that guy that stands in the way of your friend having a moment with a promising stranger. And definitely don’t put out a sign encouraging people to tip in the wrong spot.
3 The Worrisome Sign
It’s hard getting older, it’s even harder getting older than that. Your body begins to betray you, you forget minor and major details, and you need help from others to do some of the most basic things. Those who have taken care of relatives in their 80s know that we will all eventually lose some of our dignity. But there is absolutely no need to herd senior citizens around like cattle to wash them, as this sign seems to suggest. And vacuuming? Holy Roomba! This is starting to resemble a horror movie. Sure, my meemaw may smell a tad mothball-y but taking a vaccuum cleaner to her? That’s a step too far, sign! Then again $15,95 for a wash and vacuum? It’s hard to say no to good deals.
2 The One That Is Wrong On So Many Levels
There are good deals (See Number 3 on this list) and then there are bad deals. This is a bad deal. Free rectal photography with an eye test? Um, #thanksbutnothanks. Also, I’m pretty sure rectal photography is another way of saying a colonoscopy and I’d much rather have one of those at a clinic with access to laughing gas. Go ahead and look at that photo one more time and have yourself a giggle. Because after a thorough investigation, I discovered that this sign was actually photoshopped. Vision Express, the company in question, had to release a statement to confirm that the specific sign at the specific location actually reads, “Free retinal photography.” Turns out, some punk on the internet defamed the poor sign who totally nailed its one job. Victory!
1 This One Is Like Magic
American Gods author, Neil Gaiman, wrote, “If hell is other people, purgatory is airports.” Thanks Neil, that’s exactly the way it feels each time you’ve been stuck on the tarmac for hours, watching other planes taking off, while yours is not moving at all. But at Miami International Airport, it got even worse because what’s more uncomfortable that being in purgatory and needing to pee? The airport did apologize for the confusion and changed the placement of the sign but we’re rather believe that was an interactive art exhibition in homage to Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾. Perhaps, all you really had to do was take a deep breath and barrel towards the middle sign and you’d be transported to the wizarding world of a restroom.