Wet floor sign spoof
In May 2008 on Wikipedia, the new user "Carpenters13" created a brilliant piece of humor, mocking the Wikipedia writing style and tone. Even as the article's continued existence was debated by others, Carpenters13 kept plugging away. This is an homage to him.
A wet floor sign is useful in many situations, most notably when a floor is wet. Wet floors can cause pedestrians to slip, especially if the pedestrian's footwear does not have properly maintained traction on its sole. Another helpful use of a wet floor sign is when a manager, administrator or other authority figure in a certain location prefers that pedestrians do not enter a certain area, but the manager, administrator, etc., lacks such signs as "do not enter," "private property," "access prohibited," and many other signs that discourage entrance into a location.
According to some sources, a wet floor sign is a public good because while most people do not pay for the placement of the sign, the product nevertheless prevents these pedestrians' injury, which would have been more likely if the sign were not present. Therefore, while the sign may be an inconvenience to some pedestrians who wish to walk on a certain spot, their inconvenience is outweighed by their safety.
It is believed that wet-floor signs were first used (albeit with far less beauty and style) at the dawn of the Floor Age. As soon as floors were introduced in Roman times, it is likely that they began getting wet–whether caused by water, vomit, urine, or any other liquid. It was only a matter of time before it was understood that a sign would prevent a pedestrian from slipping on the wet floor. Historians of the Roman period point to the introduction of wet floor signs (approximately 220 B.C.) as one of the main causes of the decreased rate of ankle-sprains among Romans, thus allowing the Republic to expand into an empire with its far larger healthy population.
Wet-floor signs were found far less frequently during the Medieval Period, as Roman culture diminished throughout Europe. Because the Germanic tribes to the North had not yet developed floors, they had little use for a sign that would declare a floor's wet state. It was not until the Flemish Renaissance that the wet-floor sign was reintroduced into European culture, although this time in a standard orange color, rather than the red used by the Romans.
The wet-floor sign became an especially important part of British culture during the Elizabethan period of the 16th Century. Thus, it has often been argued that the wet-floor sign was introduced to much of the world through the expansion of the British Empire from the 17th to the 20th Centuries. It is assumed that the wet-floor sign first reached the Americas on HMS Horatio Nelson Commodore in 1673. The ship was crossing the Atlantic to resupply the Colony of Virginia with arms and ammunition for the increasingly frequent Indian raids when the cook, one John Miller Henry, spilled some soup onto the ship's kitchen floor. The captain was so enraged––no soup had ever been spilled before on the floor of the HMS Horatio Nelson Commodore––that he made the cook run to the poop deck and retrieve the never-used-before wet-floor sign. The captain forced the cook to disembark upon arrival in Virginia and hired an American cook for the return journey. Mr. Henry thus introduced the wet-floor sign into American colonial pop culture at his new pub in Richmond, John Miller Henry's Pub.
Wet-floor signs have had many positive influences on the economic health of every country in which they are used–which includes all industrialized nations, as well as most developing nations. First, wet-floor signs greatly reduce ankle-sprains, broken legs, pulled hip-flexors, strained quadriceps, broken collarbones, and many other now uncommon injuries. Second, the production of wet-floor signs has drastically increased the Gross Domestic Product of the United States because of the incredibly immense quantity produced in that country. Third, wet-floor signs have become an important part of the American, British, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, Russian, Angolan, Portuguese, Mexican, and Tasmanian popular cultures, thus increasing GDP in many ways.
Popular designs for wet-floor signs have changed throughout history since their introduction in the Roman Republic.
The production, sale, and use of wet-floor signs are heavily regulated by the governments of most developed nations. Because of the danger of abuse of the wet-floor sign in everyday life, the government requires all producers, distributors, and owners of wet-floor signs to be licensed in the United States by the Federal Insignia and Advertisement Agency and to register every use of the wet-floor sign. The registration application for use of wet-floor signs in the United States requires the following information to be submitted: (1) cause of spillage, (2) perpetrator of spillage, (3) reason for lack of oversight during spillage, (4) manager in charge during spillage, (5) area of spillage, (6) type of liquid spilled, (7) length of time desired for display of wet-floor sign, (8) type, size, design, and manufacturer of wet-floor sign in use, (9) a $30 fine for the spill, and (10) a $30 registration fee. Because of the extent of this regulation and the amount of information required for the registration process, some people say that the government is overstepping its bounds.
Wet-floor signs can be purchased, although the buyer must apply for a license as described above. The price of a wet-floor sign is generally less than twenty dollars. An example of a wet-floor sign on sale can be found here: Wet-Floor Sign On Sale.
THE WORTHINESS OF 'WET-FLOOR SIGNS' AS AN INDEPENDENT SUBJECT OF INQUIRY
There is currently a debate within the intelligentsia and within the population as a whole concerning the worthiness of treating the 'wet-floor sign' as a subject of inquiry, independent of the more general topic of 'signs.' On the one side are those scholars such as the present writer, who view each and every type of sign as a unique contribution to civilization's wealth and security, just as each individual human is perfectly independent of others and is endowed with certain unalienable rights: rights held by the individual, not the collective. These scholars understand the incredible value of a wet-floor sign. A wet-floor sign warns. It teaches. It promotes bilingualism. It enhances the aesthetics of an environment. It prevents injury. It is yellow and has a man falling down on it. On the other side of the debate are those who wish to censor; those who wish to label; those who wish to limit the debate; those who wish limit expression of a person's, an object's individual characteristics. They argue that by knowing what a 'sign' is, we obviously know what a 'wet-floor sign' is. They argue that there is no difference between a sign that proclaims "WET FLOOR" and a sign that proclaims "START LINE HERE." They argue that it is unnecessary to specialize one's knowledge, to understand uniqueness, to consider the small things around us. They argue that 'a sign is a sign, no matter what it says.' This debate continues, and its conclusion will determine humanity's intellectual future.