SFM #156. Culture. No No No

Written by Robert Wu for his family and friends

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We live in a world of many warnings, prohibitions and limitations.  There are signs all around us telling us not to do this or that.  They limit us as well as others so that we can live in a safe and harmonious society.

On top of a cliff in China, the warning “caution, stop” is elaborately conveyed in mosaic.

Serious prohibitions

In Australia, I was warned about salt water crocodiles in the water.

Hazards in the desert included mountain lions and rattle snakes.

I did not read Spanish and did not understand “peligro”.  But the skull and bones warned me about the alligator on the distant shore.

In Alaska, Sally understood right away that we needed to be alert for a sighted bear.


Gun culture is very prevalent in the US.  There are very few laws against long rifles, and some people with permits can carry pistols.  This store prohibited people from bringing guns into the store.  The store owner probably enforced this rule with his own gun.

Clear and large warning.

This sign was in Spanish, but I understood it prohibits guns.

Guns were allowed, but just don’t shoot them.

No shooting in the next one mile, but it was permitted on this location.  Some gun owners obliged and emptied their guns before entering that prohibited zone.

This sign made a convenient target.  Some bullets were small caliber, others were large caliber.

I hope the shots were fired when the campground was empty.

Ambiguous prohibitions

Sometimes, signs are confusing.  Was I told that I should not touch anything in the toilet or that the toilet flushed itself without my touching anything?

This written sign in a small restaurant warned against putting shoes on the wall.  It must had been a traumatic incidence to warrant this sign.

The sign said “do not feed the birds”.  It did not prohibit feeding dogs at table.

The sign on the wall in this senior center said “no food or drink”.  But the special occasion used the room for a communal affair and the sign was ignored.

This motorcycle was parked at a respectable distance from the driveway.  But the home owner left a note on the vehicle warning him not to park there.  Some people are excessively possessive.

When we visited the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, this sign specified “no photo inside the tombs”.  But given a tip, the guard would look the other way.  We refused to violate the rules.

Bodily functions

A home owner in San Francisco got tired of cleaning the driveway.  He/she put up a sign to warn against urinating there.  I wonder how effective the sign was.

Long distance truck drivers sometimes urinated into a jug and discarded the jug as garbage.  This sign urged them to desist.

In Venice, men were urged not to overestimate themselves.

In Japan, this sign prohibited public urination.

In rural Southwest US, the problem was much more serious.

A sidewalk gardener hoped dogs could read signs.

Written signs

This sign in Hong Kong Jockey Club revealed a mediocre proficiency in the English language.

I guess customers needed to spray themselves with perfume before entering the store.

This home owner urged passers-by not to pick the roses and they obliged.  A few feet away, somebody covered “don’t” from the sign and the flowers were picked clean.  People followed rules to a T.


This home owner planted his sidewalk with an exuberant amount of succulents, but passers-by helped themselves and stole some.  The home owner put up this sign that warned would-be thieves that they were being watched on camera.

A store put up a bulletin board for customers to post notices.  But the store owner had many restrictions:  No Staples, No Politics, No Stradamus.  Wait, what is Stradamus?  Oh, it’s Nostradamus, the medieval prophet.

On another bulletin board, he said “No Sepickers”.  I tried to find what sepickers were, but to no avail.  Finally I realized the words were intentionally separated wrong.  The words were “Nose Pickers”.

Profuse Prohibition signs

Some places exhibit anal retentive characteristics.  This store had a long list of rules and regulations for its paying customers.  Money alone was not enough to patronize this store.

This beach in Hong Kong banned all fun activities.  How did they expect people to ride bicycles on soft sandy beach anyway?

This park could have exchanges this long list of prohibitions with one single sign that allowed walking only.

This Guatemala park allowed walking and breathing, and nothing else.

This Hong Kong public athletic field posted treatises explaining in detail what, why, when and where activities were prohibited.

I think this park won the prize for the most extensive prohibition sign.

Overdone signs

This may be the cruelest sign.  It prohibited children from playing.

People rebelled.  One person modified the sign that prohibited bicycles and skating in a park to “No bicycles skating rules”.

The rebellion has started.


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Author: Robert Wu

Two engineering and one business degrees, all from NYU. National president of Organization of Chinese Americans, two terms. General manager of a multinational corporation in China. Retired but still active. Married to a wonderful wife, one son & one daughter.

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