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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Prime Time: Sign language is appreciated
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Ladies who follow me in rest rooms can be happy that Northwest Airlines (now Delta) trained me well.

We haven't traveled in years, but I remember that little sign above the wash bowl. It directed that after washing your hands, you should use another paper towel to clean up the little sink. I've been doing it for years; wash rooms all over town are tidier after I leave. Impressed?


I've been thinking about all of the instructive signs in our lives. We've had a lot of them lately, what with the election By the time you read this, candidates will, if they've followed the rules, removed the signs. But they did issue a call to action: Vote For, Re-Elect. I like the ones that say "please" and appreciate those candidates even if I'm not voting for them

The Minnesota Department of Health has done a good job in rest rooms of establishments that serve food. I am always reassured when I go to the ladies' room and see that sign that demands that food service workers wash their hands before returning to work. And health providers are so good about advising us that hand washing is the best way to ward off disease.

Schools are pretty demanding in the sign biz. They tell you to report to the office immediately. No ifs, ands or buts, you go directly to the office and sign in. Then there is Bemidji High School that has no less than three signs on its front door instructing students about guns and weapons: One says "HUNTERS. No weapons allowed on school district property." Another one says "HUNTERS please leave your guns and knives at home." (Do you think the "please" helps here? I hope so.) And the third: "It is illegal to have a gun on school property." Let's hope that kids read the signs and I am not entering an armed fortress.

I do like the sign that greets students at the front door of the high school: "Expect Success Today." What a lovely way to start each and every school day!

The prize for cleverness in getting patrons to clean up after themselves goes to Burger King. Over the trash can, they advise:

"Toss it in. Drop it in. Slide it in off the tray

Just get your trash in here

Some way."

I'll bet some high-level ad guy or gal got paid big bucks to design those signs, as well as the very clever ones as you go in and out.

But best of all are the Ojibwe signs that now appear in nearly 70 Bemidji businesses and organizations. They say "Boozhoo - welcome" and "Miigwich - thank you." In some places, the Men's and Women's rooms are also signed in Ojibwe as well as English. Harmony Natural Foods Co-Op gets the prize in this category. If you want to know what "carrots" is in Ojibwe, check it out at the co-op. The signage is a project of Shared Vision, and has put Bemidji on the map with the publicity it has drawn to our town.

So move over, Delta. I may not fly, but I'm still being ordered around by signs, and I thank all sign makers who have my best interests at heart.

Pioneer staff reports