The silent, anonymous mothering presence around the workplace.
Letting you know that you’ve over-stepped the bounds of a stranger’s idea of acceptable behaviour even before you’d even thought of doing so.
They can be a bit cryptic though can’t they? So what do they all really mean?
Let me help you out with some examples of some of the more common ones.
“Free to good home – please take”
When attached to foodstuffs in the kitchen/tea room normally means: “I tried this and it was disgusting. Please try it too, I certainly don’t want it. I can’t believe I wasted $X on this – serves me right for trying to brighten up my dull existence with a pointless consumer product, doesn’t it.”
I can tell you first-hand of the dangers of reading such a sign literally and failing to properly understand the secret warning it contains - I recently took one of these from the tea-room (to which was attached the above noted signage):
The sign don’t lie – that is some awful sh*t people.
Appearing on the inside of each of the 10 cubicles on this floor (that is some serious effort), this one means “I saw someone else’s poo once and almost died. So I now I feel quite comfortable imposing my germophobia onto everyone else by writing a preachy, condescending sign for each cubicle. I probably spray my disinfectant wipes with Glen-20 and have to touch the door-knob 17 times with my elbow each morning before I can let myself leave the house.”
The above also has another, doubly hidden message along the lines of “I’m a complete cretin because I like comic-sans”, but I wouldn’t expect you all to get that one straight off the bat.
Moving back to the kitchen - don't you just hate it when you can't work out what you want to do with your dirty dishes? Do you find yourself just standing around, dumb-struck and completely at a loss as to whether you want to wash your mug, or throw it violently at the nearest wall? Never fear! The anonymous nagger is here!
“You’re [sic] mother doesn’t work here – please do not place dirty dishes, cutlery, cups or glass on bench tops or in the sink. Put them in the dishwasher or simply wash and put them away”
You've probably worked it out for yourselves (now that I've given you all such a solid grounding in sign interpretation), but what the writer of this sign was really trying to say was: “I’m trying to hide my malevolent control-freakiness behind a thin veneer of humour. Whereas in reality, computers made my job redundant 5 years ago and now I have nothing useful to do except trawl the internet for 'cute' graphics of someone doing the washing-up for my poorly written signs.”
Whilst we're in the kitchen:
“Please cover your food when using the microwave.”
I actually quite like this one. It means “scientific studies have shown that nothing smells worse than 10-day old tuna mornay caked onto the microwave walls and reheated about 50 times. Also, despite what you may think, you are the only one in love with your own cooking – no one else wants to relive it every time the microwave is used.”
So there you go. All you people out there with interesting jobs - you are all now perfectly trained and ready to chuck in your current posting and enter into an office job without any fear of inadvertently failing to feel properly nagged and harangued.