Tag Archives: signs

Sometimes vague doesn’t help.

I was driving on the Indiana Toll Road. I stopped for coffee. Since I was there, I stopped in the restroom, too.

restroom sign Apparently, someone was cleaning somewhere. That was a good thing. The sign, however, didn’t say much more than that.

“Man or woman porter in one of three restrooms.”

Someone is somewhere.

I laughed. I knew I needed a picture. I wondered what would happen if someone caught me taking pictures in the hallway to the restroom.

No one did.

And I went on my way unchanged.

I know. An ambiguous sign shouldn’t change me. And yet, I had noticed the uncertainty introduced into my life by this sign. And I realized that I need to pay attention to what I say in a way that will remove ambiguity from my audience.

(See? I can’t help myself. Let’s try again. “I need to be clear.” Much better. Okay. Back to the post.)

In several conversations since I saw that sign, I have been just as vague. I tried to tell people when my boss/colleague’s birthday was. I tried to tell Nancy several things. I tried to explain ideas at a conference.

Every time, I felt as ineffective as the sign.

Someone is cleaning somewhere.

You know what the problem is? I try to be vague. It’s ironic. It’s subtle. It’s easy. It’s lazy.

And it doesn’t work.

You know what I mean?