Friday, November 28, 2008

Signs of the times

Public signs are curious: in prosperous, comfortable times, one interprets them in a positive light. When times are tough, the implication of a sign's language is often portentous and forbidding. For evidence, consider Exhibit A above.

Similarly, there is always a bit of churn in the business landscape of a town. But as the markets have tanked, the visibly empty store front becomes a harbinger of worse to come.

Why should I feel it worrisome when businesses put up "for sale" signs? Possibly because, if the economy were better, these same operations would be hot properties, selling quickly through business brokers, no "for sale" sign necessary.

Rack down to the bottom sign -- this is the first I've seen "owner may carry" in a long, long time. Apparently this owner is not waiting for a buyer to locate a no-money-down loan (and yes, apparently these still exist, believe it or not). Actually, in more normal markets, owners often had to carry in out-of-the-way locations such as Wilhoit, down SR89 south.

We're also entering a world in which it may be necessary to hire citizen-handymen once again, as many illegals return home. The magnetic auto sign above reminds me that it took several Sci-Fi stories worth of reading before I finally figured out just what "Billy the Joat" did for a living. That's a word that should enter our everyday vocabulary -- let's hear it for the Joat!

What does this sign tell me? First, that our population includes louts with nothing better do with their time than randomly muck up the right of way. Second, that the city doesn't care -- that sign has been missing letters like a six year old is missing teeth for ever so long.

Not bad. Data. Wonder how often a speeder actually has to pay out such sums. OK, I also wonder how many speeders have read that sign.

I suspect that we'll be seeing a lot more conspiracy theory signage -- another predictable side effect of an economic downturn, especially one in which public trust in our financial and political institutions is low.

And, of course, there's always prejudice to worry about ... over on McCormick Street, at least.


RV-boondocker-explorer said...

There are indeed a lot of For Sale signs up. I wish I could contribute a photo to your post today. Last year I photographed a hot air balloon sinking, almost dangerously, into the roof of a strip mall that had a big Remax For Sale sign on it.

The irony was delicious.

Anonymous said...

Very journalistic, post, GJ!

There were two young men washing windows of a two-story house in our neighborhood. I asked them to come to ours for an estimate, and when he presented his business card... yes, he had "the list". The Jacks-of-All-Trades list of handymen "will dos".

Turns out he and his partner (both young men in their early 30s) are eager to do all sorts of things that are either tasking us, or we can't do because of our bad backs.

In a way, it's a very good thing. Their window washing estimate, for a two-story house, is very reasonable.

~Anon in AV.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Interesting and a bit scary..
If a seller can afford to carry, they can make up some or all the market loss in the interest they make on the transaction , but of course not everyone can afford to do that and they need to live long enough:)

meggie said...

Very interesting post.
I had never heard of the term Joat before- must remember it. Of course we have all heard of Jack-of-all-trades!

Granny J said...

boonie -- have you ever posted that pic? It sounds grand.

anon av -- Let's have a round of applause for those Jacks...

brain -- when we bought down in Wilhoit in the 80s, it was a 10-year owner-carry deal. And yes, the sellers did survive that long.

meggie -- I suspect that "Joat" was a word put-together from one or more science fiction authors. It does sound exotic, in a very British sort of way, I'd say.

Photo Blog Blog Top Sites Blog Directory for Prescott, AZ

Local Blogs - Blog Top Sites