On the 1960s tv show, “Gomer Pyle USMC,” Gome used to tell the bad guys “Shame, Shame, Shame!” He’d admonish them when he learned some crook, con man or mean Marine at been up to some malicious mischief.
When I drive by those guys sitting by the ubiquitous “Shame On ____” signs, I rather imagine they are trying to convey the same message. Thing is: Who are they shaming?
For a while, the “Shame On” signs were kind of a novelty. And I learned that the “Shame On” signs were about some sort of labor dispute. Any of us could feel sympathy for some guy sitting out in the rain or bundled up on a blustery winter day.
But they’ve been sitting out by these red and white signs for so long now, you really wonder what are they trying to accomplish? And don’t the signs – and the protestors – just fade into the background along with the ever-present dogwoods and Bradford pears?
I wondered if there had been some new developments that keep the signs (and the sign sitters) on duty. So, I went on-line and learned that these omnipresent signs aren’t just stationed around this town, they’re deployed all over the country. I read about sign sightings in Chattanooga and Atlanta and even as far away as California.
Here’s a photo from Bakersfield that I cited as my content source. It’s an excellent example of one of these signs that we so often see around our town.
Around here, I read about reports of how local unions were actually paying these people to sit by the signs that we all drive past each and every day and I just wonder…aren’t the “Shame On” signs really starting to lose their oomph?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for free speech and the right for anyone to express themselves in a respectful, legal way. But when the average sign viewer doesn’t know what the sign means – or even looks past the sign because it has been at the same spot for a couple years – you have to start to wonder if the signs have lost their significance.
I was thinking that, maybe, they could jazz things up a little. Maybe they could employ one of those guys who dance around and flip the hand-held signs trying to call your attention to a mattress sale or a restaurant special. You’ve probably seen these guys. The signs are usually oddly shaped and brightly colored and they flip and spin the sign. They do so with flair and panache and at rapid speeds.
That might call attention to the “Shame On” signs.
I was starting to think I was on to something and then, I saw one of these sign flippers – trying to call attention to a super duper hair cut sale – just sitting on a park bench by the roadside. He looked defeated, almost lugubrious in nature.
That won’t cut it. I doubt he sold any haircuts in that pose and I doubt he’d boost the morale of the “Shame Onners” either.