One of the more useful signs I've ever seen was at the Phoenix International Airport.
By the way,the airport's lofty little name, Sky Harbor, makes it sound more like you're flying into some sort of futuristic town where the denizens float away in soaring, airborne jet skis instead of being greeted by ten months of wilting heat. I find it both lovely and alluring, and totally stupid to be honest.
I mean, Sky Harbor? Cheesy.
But I digress.
The sign was posted above the automatic pedestrian walks that speed up movement for (some of) the once and future passengers. It actually appeared more than once –that is to say, it figured prominently along all the pedestrian ramps through which I walked and happened to look up– and it was clear and legible to those who are readers of English (and really, with a domestic 99% literacy rate, almost no United States citizen should have a problem with that).
It said simply, "Walk on left– Stand on right." And it was beautiful.
Every day, thousands of clueless Americans (and others from abroad) flood tourist spots far and wide such as the nation's capital. And every day, the locals groan, bitch, and passively-aggressively resort to vicious muttering and elbowing because that über-nincompoop turd-for-brains dared STAND on the left side of the escalator and now you have to wait six minutes until the next train.
But tell me: where has WMATA helpfully placed the sign above the escalator, instructing the populace to stand on the right side and let the Speedy McSpeedersons trot on the left?
Instead, the closest instruction is to be found snarkily displayed as a pseudo dictionary entry bearing the moniker, "Escalefter" within the actual train cars– the one place where it's guaranteed not to be seen by those who need it most.
Yes, Escalefter is totally cute and definitely hip, but do you really think the tourist brood of eight that is busily folding the Smithsonian pamphlet while nearly running over your foot with the DuoGlider that was being pushed by the eight-year old (who incidentally was the only one not crying) is going to notice that?
Or do you think that said brood will, say, stop to read the tiny print that tells you that you should not expect the ticket to pop out the top of the turnstile thingy but back through the same slot you just pushed it through when you're going through the handicapped turnstile (naturally, the only one that's wide enough to accomodate the aforementioned Strollerzilla)?
(Incidentally, the same goes for the gaggle of teenagers and the coven of camera fiends who shoot everywhere with the flash on and the rather large family who's trying to figure out which way is the White House. The answer is always NO when you're dealing with tourists.)
So you see, tourists are annoying and that is a fact that cannot be denied. As a matter of fact, tourists –especially the more clueless among them– should be giggled about and ridiculed sotto voce often and with gusto.
But it's also a good thing to realize that there are less subtle ways to help these poor souls who've checked their brains in with at the airport and they never submitted a lost luggage claim form upon arrival: there are nice, crisp, clear signs that could be posted everywhere so as to make it even easier to loudly, passively-aggressively point out that, HELLO? CAN'T SOME PEOPLE READ A GODDAMN SIGN AROUND HERE?!