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Author Topic: Retrospective: Wrong or willfully violated mall parking signs in English  (Read 71 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: January 24, 2018, 08:22:36 PM »

Sometime in May of 2014, right after I parked my car facing the wall in the basement of the then still unfinished extension of a shopping mall in Mandaluyong City, a security guard tapped my side window and asked me to park the other way around. I remonstrated against this because the signage on the wall couldn’t have been clearer—“PLEASE PARK FACING THE WALL”—but the guard politely insisted.

DIRECTIONAL PARKING SIGNS HONORED MORE IN THE BREACH THAN IN THE OBSERVANCE (CIRCA 2017)

The guard explained in Tagalog that he was just enforcing management’s order, pointing to the other cars that he said he had also asked to be similarly parked. The evident contradiction grated on my nerves but my wife Eleanor, who was seated beside me, told me not to argue with him. I then restarted the car, backed out and turned it around, then parked it with the rear facing the wall.

On our way out of the parking area, I asked another motorist—an Asian foreign national—if he didn’t find it unusual to be directed to park his car contrary to what the signage required. He said it also didn’t make sense to him but thought it just wasn’t worth arguing about.

Four days later, I drove to that same basement parking area. The mall extension had been inaugurated by then and the finishing touches to the parking area were now in place—the directional signages, the assignment markings for parking slots, and the green-and-red pilot lights for slot availability. Every parking section along the walls now had this instruction in big, bold letters: “PLEASE PARK FACING THE WALL.” And every parking slot away from the walls now had this instruction on the concrete floor: “PLEASE PARK FACING THE TIRE STOPPER.”

Everything appeared to be in place in that basement parking area—except for the fact that almost all of the vehicles parked along the walls were parked facing away from the wall, and that easily 75 per cent of the vehicles parked in the slots away from the wall were parked facing away from the tire stopper. In the practically full parking area, there was an almost unanimous, willful violation of the parking instruction for vehicles parked along the walls, and a highly predominant violation of the parking instruction for vehicles parked away from the walls.

Watching the parking signages so blatantly ignored gave me the feeling of having entered a neat yet upside-down universe. What could have brought about this massive inverse compliance with the parking rules?

I came up with these three possible reasons after some informal research and much thought on the subject:

First, most Filipino motorists or hired drivers must be so mischievously disobedient—“mga pasaway” in the Tagalog street lingo—that they would violate rules if they can get away with it.

Second, that the mall management had come up with parking rules that may not be anchored on the realities on the ground—rules that perhaps run counter to the experience of Filipino motorists or hired drivers on what position is safe or unsafe when parking in enclosed spaces.

And third, which is really a long shot but even more elemental, what we have here might just be an unfortunate case of miscommunication in English—with a missing preposition as the culprit. To convey both the intended and expected sense, the parking signage for slots along walls might have been better phrased as, say, “PLEASE PARK FACING AWAY FROM WALL,” and for slots away from walls, the signage might have been better phrased as “PLEASE PARK FACING AWAY FROM TIRE STOPPER.”

 I think the current parking signages in the basement of that mall extension need to be reevaluated taking the above factors into account and, whatever rules the mall management finally decides on, they should be strictly enforced for the safety and peace of mind of all concerned.

This essay, 904th in the series, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the August 23, 2014 issue of The Manila Times, © 2015 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
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*POSTSCRIPT: Three and a half years later, and I’m willing to be corrected if I’m wrong, I still get the impression that the duly posted parking rules for the basement parking slots in that mall are still being honored more in the breach than in the observance.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 08:57:47 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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