Doing something to do nothing
Posted December 12, 2015on:
I photographed this hard to read notice earlier this week.
It was difficult to read because it was placed way above eye level. I had my phone raised above my head like I was surrendering in order to photograph it. The physical placement of the notice reduced the likelihood of it being read.
The heading was also difficult to read. The contrast of the black text against the very dark grey background made it near impossible to tell from a distance.
The notice was also only in English. As much as someone in the town council might think English is our lingua franca, the people who leave the carts abandoned in HDB void decks are more likely to understand some other language and unlikely to read notices.
The message claims that the abandoned carts “pose both safety and hygiene hazards”. What are they exactly? This is admin-speak for everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. “Safety” and “hygiene” just sound good.
The deeper issue is basic human behaviour, specifically, a lack of consideration or civic responsibility. The people who take shopping carts from grocery stores to bring their wares home without returning the carts are selfish and lazy.
What would it take for administrators to think and act like people and simply point that out? How about providing a huge disincentive by pointing out that they can use CCTV footage (the cameras are everywhere!) to catch recalcitrants? The selfish and lazy could then be told to collect these carts under the supervision of one or two grocery store staff.
As much as this rant is about ineffective notices and inconsiderate behaviour, it is also a reminder for me how disconnected admin-speak is to the needs and action on the ground. It is one thing to craft a policy document, it is another to articulate it effectively, and still another to implement it.
What matters is action. If the initial action is weak or ineffective, do not hold out for better follow up.