(prompt: ‘exit’ – 31/1/2020)
EXIT – That’s all the neon signs said in the old picture theatre of my childhood. They often had a discreet velvet curtain hanging in front of them. Not sure why. Maybe cracks of light could sneak in otherwise? Never used them to actually leave! Even as a kid, that sounded too final somehow. There was something about the not knowing for sure whether a stairway to heaven awaited on the other side… OR the doors only led to a disappointingly dirty old alleyway down the side of the building.
Modern theatre and other public building exits depict a man running and an arrow pointing the way. Others step up the drama by adding the word EMERGENCY – and then there’s the FIRE EXIT in words, or in symbols depicting a fire, a running man and an arrow. Sometimes that order is changed to depict a special urgency with an arrow, a running man, a fire in hot pursuit and the words FIRE EXIT.
Even more worrisome is the sign that says NO EXIT…
There are some I find confusing –
EMERGENCY EXIT, ALARM WILL SOUND –
uhrr, before the event? Or as you use it?
And another –
EXIT SIGNS ARE ON THE WAY OUT –
Yes but – on your way out? Or going out of fashion?
DO NOT BLOCK FIRE EXIT –
uhrr, do we imagine people line up in an orderly fashion and shuffle quietly, one by one, through the Exit door when there’s a fire or an axe-wielding murderer behind them?
How about –
FIRE DOOR, KEEP SHUT –
hmmm… I believe I know what they mean, but not sure this is the best way of saying it.
EXIT LEVEL 20 sounds fearful. What? Jump out the window?
EMERGENCY, Fire Exit Only, This Door is Alarmed – (Well yes indeed. Me too!)
Oops! Nearly forgot the –
ACCESSIBLE EXIT – the one with the words, the arrow and a running man being hotly pursued by a forward-leaning man in a wheelchair.
Among the most flummoxing is –
EXIT GROUND (repeated in Braille underneath) – seeing as how its inside a building, we assume the Ground floor is the only way out (brilliant deduction). Now shall we take the lift? The stairwell? Uhrr, none of those?
Perhaps wisest is the one with two upward pointing arrows, one above the other and something in maybe Arabic or similar and then a squidgy little EXIT. This one is presumably a shortcut to Heaven (but maybe not the one we expect)?
But going back to once upon a long time ago and the local picture theatre, the kids would rock up in their dozens on foot or on bikes, having waited with bated breath for their treasured Saturday ‘arvo’ at the flicks – designed especially for their pleasure, with twenty cartoons in a row. Can you imagine the joy of those great colourful pics in a world that was decades away from even beginning to know TV? Can you imagine the sound level of a theatre full of kids?
EXIT ? NOT bloody likely!