Monday, 29 September 2008

Don’t bother with the signs

In work there have been numerous occasions where I have felt that the signs I have put up have had little or no effect. This was hammered home in true style today.

Visiting the Cathedral of San Marco is one of the “Must Do” things of any trip to Venice, every guide book, every guided tour, every recommendation is always to have a look around, and in every one I have seen there has always been the message that the cathedral doesn’t allow people to come in with bags, they have to be left in the cloakroom which is located about a minutes walk away from the cathedral.

To add to the information signs are displayed in Italian, English, German and French fully explaining. There are even signs which have images of a piece of rolling luggage with a line through it, a backpack with line through it and a shopping bag with a line through it.

In the process of queuing for the cathedral you pass at least three of these signs.

You would have thought that people would get the message, but no, at least one in ten visitors get to the front of the queue and get sent away to drop their bag off, and in a queue that can take the best part of an hour to get to the head off, that’s quite a serious issue.

About four people in front of me in the queue had a bag, we passed all the signs, no flicker, we passed the big visual one with lots of pictures of bags with crosses through them and a sign pointing to the luggage office, not a flicker, we get to the front of the queue and she is stopped by the cathedral staff on the door, after an initial attempt in Italian the, clearly weary, member of staff said “no bags” to which the woman erupted into a self defence saying that nobody had told her and they should put signage up to that effect if they wanted to enforce such a stupid rule. With a simple hand gesture the member of staff signalled to the line of signs, and the big colourful one. The response “you could have made it more obvious”

Perhaps she would have liked one posted the entire height of the bell tower which flashes in 25 different languages no bags with clear symbols, perhaps she wanted someone to spend their working life walking up and down the queue announcing, in every possible language, that bags have to be left in the office. Perhaps, she, like the countless thousand other tourists this year that will have missed the signs, needs to get to an optician sooner rather than later.

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