Writer's Life / Writing

Context? What Context?

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If you are a parent of small children, you have no greater opportunity than now to take pictures of absurd cautionary signs, post them out-of-context on social media and bless everyone with a laugh.

Do it. I posted the above photo a couple weeks ago when we were taking a mini-family-getaway to Great Wolf Lodge (a kid-centered waterpark extravaganza) that had huge statues of giant wolves. With the context and this picture you get a shrug. But I left out the context – I knew that would be more amusing. There is probably no where else in the world where people need to be reminded not to climb on wolves.

A few days later I saw a sign that said Do Not Play on Dinosaurs – or something to that effect. Good advice if you are prehistoric or if you’re on a preschool pumpkin-patch field trip. Twitter gold if you take away the context. My 2-year-old was dashing towards the bison and that seemed more important than taking a picture. But, I really, really wanted to.

The wolf-sign picture generated more favorites and retweets than anything I’ve posted yet. (A close second was the pun I made about a cardigan sweater. I really have the best Tweeps – they certainly appreciate some good word humor).

I still get annoyed with a cup of to-go coffee that has a “contents may be really, really, super-duper, flame-throwing hot” warning. I’m an adult. I know. I’m a klutz, too, but I also know that and take risks every day. But, someone somewhere sued or complained or pitched a hissy-fit and so warning labels abound. But from the bad comes the marvelously good, and we now have an abundance of signs and warnings that are funny. Context is useful for some of them, but mostly they’re just funny whenever and wherever.

Here are some more of my favorites from over the years- with kids and without – warning signs and otherwise. Language is fun.

 

 

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When did Bees start writing notes and leaving them on trash cans? Quite thoughtful of them.

 

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Good advice for the speeding motorist trying to make it between the legs of a gigantic creature….then again, this is why we have signs that say I Brake for Railroad Crossings. The future of humanity, ladies and gentlemen!

 

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Animals have a pretty key role in the generation of unusual signs and warnings. I’m noticing a theme.

 

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Uh huh. You know who you are.

 

WARNING: Good advice for social media hilarity: take out the context. Terrible advice if you’re writing a book.

3 thoughts on “Context? What Context?

  1. These are great. I love the bookstore one. Do I dare admit I’ve actually reshelved a book in a bookstore when I found it in the wrong place? Well, only when it’s on the same shelf. It’s not like I wander all over the bookstore reshelving misplaced books!

  2. It’s true, I’ve done it myself. But it really takes courage to reshelve in the library – ours have so many signs warning against putting a book back on the shelf if you don’t want it. They’ll give you a frosty “do YOU know Dewey” kind of glare….chills and shudders. The best signs usually are like the bookstore one – a perfect blend of creativity and exasperation 🙂

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