Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I Saw the Sign


It was a very normal day.  There I was at the Daiso, which is the Dollar Store here but way better.  Annalee was with me and needed a nap.  I was thinking about dinner and the kids and what time my husband was likely to get home.  As I perused the aisles looking for a new liquid soap dispenser, I saw it.  There, like a message from above, was a toilet seat with lid inscribed with these most inspiring words: “Find joy in the ordinary”.  


I just have to say, one of my favorite things about living overseas is the signage.  It adds so much delight to my life.


Well, okay, I can’t lie: as a foreigner, some of the signs are downright confusing.  Do I push or pull?

Is it a yes or a no?  
Am I coming or going?  
Also, and maybe most importantly, what time is 24:07?
I sure could use an extra seven minutes in my day!

I know how easy it is to misinterpret language especially on menus (says the vegetarian who once ordered a giant leg of lamb) (and that was before Google Translate came along and further muddled things), but these do not sound appetizing. At all.


Also, I went down this aisle many times but never could find the sand among the biscuits, candy, and chocolate.  Probably for the best!!


Some of the signs make me think Koreans just get me.  

Coffee — okay, usually tea for me — is magic! 
 “Strange but sweet”, seen on a bag of apples, is probably the three-word description most people would use for me (except for maybe certain taxi drivers in Shanghai).   And I’m pretty sure I’ve given people the exact warning on this rotti bun bag: “Don’t bite me or you will love me.”

There was this sign, which sounds like good advice,
 but makes me worry a little about what happens when they’re over two.

Other signs make me think they’re just trying to ruin all my fun.
 If I can’t feed fingers to the petting zoo, what even is the point in going?  Then again, they do want me to provoke the animals, and that could be entertaining.


Some of the signs make me laugh just because.  

I can’t really explain it. 

Some are hilarious in an absolutely terrifying way, like this one at the dentist above a picture of a titanium screw going into a gum.  “Have a health & Shiny tooth.  All the happiness in the world, Your smile is started.”
The best I’ve ever seen, though, was a year ago, when I was having so much trouble with our property manager in Busan.  It had been a long week of endlessly drying windows like it was my job, and there were several other things weighing heavily on my mind.  That’s when I looked up in the elevator and saw this gem.  Most of it is... well, a bit puzzling, to say the least.  But one part is crystal clear.  


I actually doubled over laughing right there in the elevator.


Here’s the thing: I love these signs because they are actual signs — reminders — that I should always keep my eyes open.  I mean, sure, I don’t usually lift the lid of the toilet seat and find joy in what’s underneath.  In fact, sometimes what I find there can be really stressful.  Unless I really need to go — that has definitely happened!  All joking aside, though, there’s almost always something beautiful, hilarious, or poignant to see as long as I don’t get bogged down and forget to look around me.


Still, if you lift the lid of your toilet seat and find me… send help.

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