Hongkongers like rules and Americans are idiots: reading a people via its park signs

Everyone loves a good, overly restrictive park sign from Singapore or Hong Kong. Signs like this one:

This is the kind of sign that makes me want to roller-skate through the park with a pet ferret on one shoulder and a blaring boom box on the other. All technically ok according to this sign, but clearly not ok according to basic common sense. By the next week, I wonder if they’d have added three more panels to address these newly discovered annoying behaviors? Then I’d simply have to take up pipe smoking while playing hacky sack and licking messy, drippy ice cream cones.

But, as mildly ridiculous as the Hong Kong sign seems, this sign from America has it beat:

This park sign, spotted in Washington State, assumes that we Americans have only the barest understanding of how to take care of ourselves. We have to be told that wet things are slippery and that hot things will burn. We have to be told to wear shoes. We have to be told not to push and shove. Apparently, we even have to be specifically told to follow the rules. What a poor simple-minded people we must be. How lovely that the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department was generous enough to assume that we are actually literate.

Whoever wrote this sign is an idiot.

On a completely different topic:

I’ll close this post with a big “thank you” to my fellow Hong Kong blogger, Bluebalu, for awarding me the One Lovely Blog Award! My crazy summer in America will keep me from properly passing this award on to others right away, but in the meantime, please go and check out Bluebalu’s blog. This last week she put up some great posts about classic Hong Kong diners, “What is a Cha Chaan Teng?”, and “What to order in a Cha Chaan Teng,” as well as a beautiful photo post with evening/night shots of Hong Kong, “Picture of the Week: Hong Kong Impressions.”

Thank you Bluebalu! I hope you’re surviving the hot, stormy days of summer.

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17 responses to “Hongkongers like rules and Americans are idiots: reading a people via its park signs

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Jen, much appreciated. We’ve had really hot weather the last days, with some rain – but the views have been great. It’s much clearer now and I am amazed by the views across Hong Kong and the outlying islands. Will try and post some pictures in the days to come. Enjoy your summer Jen!

  2. I think people in the US like to sue. Like, if the you didn’t warn people not to stick their heads in a crocodile and someone did that and got his head bitten off, the Parks Board would be sued. In Hong Kong and Singapore, you just can’t do certain things. If you want to stick your head in a crocodile, then it deserves to be bitten off.

    • The problem is that you can never think up all the things people should be cautious about (like, for example, the sign doesn’t specifically say that you shouldn’t jump from the top of the play structure head first) and signs like that one will not stop anyone from suing…

  3. I agree with the previous commenter on the litigation happy lawyers in the US. I think it’s more a protect you from the lowest common denominator.

    • This sign in particular, is one of the more annoying American warning signs I’ve encountered. Most park rule signs are at least relatively sensible and straight forward. This was was drafted by an odd duck. “Please follow the rules”, for example, is such a weird and unnecessary addition..

  4. Congratulations on your award! Another one! πŸ™‚
    I agree with both commenters. It is not about people being stupid but about people seizing every opportunity to sue. When my husband was working in Switzerland, an American hotel guest wanted to sue them because she had wandered the cobblestone streets in heels and sprained her ankle. She claimed the hotel should have informed her upon arrival.
    Unfortunately, this mentality has meanwhile made its way to Europe so you can find those stupid signs there everywhere as well. (That’s at least what I noticed in the UK and Germany.)

  5. I don’t think the Americans are idiots… We just love to sue!! Why else would we have to put a warning on coffee cups that contents may be hot? Because someone spilled a coffee on themselves and sued!! Actually, maybe the fact that we sue over such ridiculous things and can actually win those lawsuits proves your original point…

  6. One interesting difference between the two signs, however, is that one assumes you can read and the other does not. And it is not a simple sign to read. It takes some knowledge of the language. Of course it is absurd but can you imagine if you were the foreigner? Or you could not read?

  7. The specs of the HK sign-no terrapins. Great! BUT, Hong Kong’s PSAs are even more ludicrous. Have you seen the one where they tell locals how to (IMO, incorrectly) use an escalator? And just about ANYTHING in the mainland can compare “unfavorably” to the Washington state sign as above. But yes, our home country isn’t a great poster-child for upright citizens either…

    • So true! Some of the HK public service announcements assume an amazing degree of ineptitude. But then again, I’ve mainly listened to the English-language radio PSAs…perhaps they assume English-speaking expats need lots of extra help… like children.

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