Everyday mysteries #1: What goes up but never comes down?

While walking to the train station on my way to work each day, I see a strange sight. It’s a notice on this seat to warn people that it has just been repainted:Wet paint 1

The only problem is, that seats looks as if it hasn’t been painted since last century. The notice has been there for many weeks at least, and is slowly being worn away by rain, hail and wind.

Which leads me to one of life’s everyday mysteries: why do people who put up notices never take them down again?

I see it everywhere: notices pinned to bulletin boards about meetings that happened two years ago, flyers advertising guest speakers at public events from three months ago, upcoming events on websites that have been and gone last week, last month, last year.

Where I work at a university, if you have to change class rooms or cancel a class, besides sending out an email to everyone you usually pin a notice to the door advising students of the change (because many young people don’t access their email regularly).

Weeks after the event, such notices are still pinned to the door. “Zoology 101 is cancelled today, July 20”, a notice will say, and it will probably remain there until September. I often end up taking down outdated notices myself and throwing them away.

I wonder if the people who leave old notices up everywhere are the same ones who leave their empty coffee mugs at the lectern, their pens and discarded food packets and half-consumed bottles of water on table tops, and who place their chewing gum under the tables?

To my way of thinking, leaving up old notices, real or virtual, is just another form of littering—and we already have enough of that.

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9 thoughts on “Everyday mysteries #1: What goes up but never comes down?

  1. Spot on, Caron. I see a lot of that, too. I often see peeling-away signs indicating garage or yard sales – from weeks ago. Or notices on the community bulletin board where I have my office. It does make me wonder, and I’m sure it can be confusing to people.

  2. “I did my bit by putting up a sign…what more do you want? Leave me alone…” I see this every day: people are living in the moment and losing the ability to think something through to its logical conclusion…We need to get back to what I call the Princess Leia doctrine “When you broke in here, did you have a plan for getting out?”

  3. Failing to remove old notices can have nasty consequences. The seats at my railway station were constantly being painted thanks to a policy of immediately covering over graffiti. We became used to seeing the “wet paint” signs that had often been chalked on the ground in front of a seat for many weeks. On one seat where this was the case, I put a tentative finger on to the paintwork, which seemed dry, before sitting down. “That seat was painted less than an hour ago,” remarked a fellow traveller as she passed by. I stood and inspected my rear end and, sure enough, my trousers were flecked bright green. A dash home to change was necessary and, such was my annoyance, I wrote a letter to the local paper. It was seen by a train driver who passed it on to railways PR with the result that I received compensation and an apology for my damaged clothes.

    • Oh yes! So weird and annoying. I have had one speeding ticket in my entire life: it was for going 3km (yes, 3) over the speed limit on a highway that had a speed limit reduced from 80 to 50km/h due to road works—yet there was no evidence of any road work or any road workers at the time!

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