Use another door
March 27, 2013 8:52 AM   Subscribe

So, for about a week, this sign appeared on one of the doors in one of my school buildings. It said "Please use another door." There are only two doors there, so clearly if the one was broken, it could have said, "please use the other door." But it said "another," which struck me as odd. Additionally, it alternated each time I went outside and back in. Could this be some kind of social experiment? There was clearly nothing wrong with either of the doors, as they were being used all day. Isn't that weird? What is it?!?!
posted by kbennett289 to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Was it a main door? The school could have been trying to funnel general traffic to the main entrance, so they could keep a better eye on who is coming and going.

(What kind of school are we talking about? This answer makes more sense for an elementary school than, say, one building on a college campus)
posted by troika at 8:55 AM on March 27, 2013

The intended message may have been "please use another entrance" rather than "please use the door right next to the one this sign is taped to." And it could have been an entrance or hallway they wanted to keep clear for some reason, not necessarily a problem with the door itself.

Or it could have just been weirdly worded. Who knows?
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:57 AM on March 27, 2013

kbennett289: Additionally, it alternated each time I went outside and back in.

You mean it was the left-hand door on the way out and the right-hand door on the way in? This is normal. If it really was alternating, it's possible that the doors don't function well if both doors are used at the same time (maybe they don't close properly or something), but they are fine if either door is used exclusively.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2013

Maybe they re-use the same sign, as needed, so in a situation with three doors, "use the other door" would not be clear (which door?), but "use another door" would.
posted by desjardins at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

My husband works in facilities, and the majority of the maintenance staff he works with and who are the people who put up these sorts of signs are not native speakers of English. The few who are native speakers have little or no college education and you would not describe them as strong in the field of written communication. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence limited English competence.
posted by drlith at 9:20 AM on March 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

Here's something odd: my daughter's middle school had similar signs on two of the three front entry doors last week too. Thought it was odd as these doors are always available. (same school? - colorado)
posted by ecorrocio at 9:28 AM on March 27, 2013

As it's worded, I might take it as an invitation to use that door. (I'm annoyingly nerdview that way sometimes.)
posted by iamkimiam at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Additionally, it alternated each time I went outside and back in.

You know, I've been staring at that sentence for five minutes now and it's bothering me far more than "Please use another door" would. I am picturing you walking outside, then walking back toward a set of double doors and finding that the sign previously attached to the right door is now attached to the left.

If somebody is following you about and switching door signs behind your back, then yes this is some kind of social experiment.

If what you meant was that door A has a sign on the outside that seems to be asking you to use door B, while door B has a similar sign on the inside asking you to use door A, then it could be an anti-collision measure.

On the other hand, if the "another door" sign is on your left as you come in, but on your right as you go out, then the signs are on both sides of the same door, which is perhaps about to come off its hinges.

On the other other hand, if there's any other way into the building, it could be a request springing from somebody's aversion to the thundering herd stampeding past their office.
posted by flabdablet at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

Additionally, it alternated each time I went outside and back in.

Is this part of a vestibule? If so, we do this all the time when it's cold or windy so that both vestibule doors are not opened in-line with each other at the same time, thus keeping out direct cold or windy air.

That being said, I vote for "another" just being bad grammar, and the person putting up the signs put the sign on the "left" (or "right") door based on where they were facing because they couldn't follow basic instructions.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:08 AM on March 27, 2013

It could just be poor English.
posted by SollosQ at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2013

Response by poster: It was in a vestibule, not in Colorado. And actually, yes! Some girl came out and switched the sign to the other door as I was standing outside (smoking...bad habit). Other people were commenting about how weird the sign was. I think it was some kind of joke or experiment, but the cold/wind could have also had something to do with it, as it was really really cold that week. It was not near anyone's office or anywhere where a large amount of foot traffic is a problem. Strange!
posted by kbennett289 at 10:58 AM on March 27, 2013

Some girl came out and switched the sign to the other door as I was standing outside

Find her and ask her why. She's going to have a better idea than we do.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:02 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds like this sign switching happens fairly often. My tiresome and pedantic suggestion is, ask them.

For example, if you spot someone changing the sign, you could ask them. Or if you spot that woman somewhere else in the building, ask her when you see her.

Are these signs posted at other entrances? Is this the only entrance where people gather to smoke? It could have something to do with the cigarette smoke being drawn into the building by certain configurations of door usage. The smell of smoke travels far for non-smokers, and in particularly bad weather, smokers tend to congregate closer to the doors than they might otherwise.
posted by ErikaB at 11:04 AM on March 27, 2013

Response by poster: i wish i asked her. i didn't think to ask her though because i wasn't really confused about the sign until after she switched it and heard people talking about it. I have no idea what she looks like. Non-descript college-age student.
posted by kbennett289 at 11:07 AM on March 27, 2013

Maybe it meant "please use an additional door," as in, "please support the local door community by using local doors frequently," or, "if you enjoyed this door, here are some other doors you might like."
posted by oulipian at 11:31 AM on March 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

Best answer: put up a sign of your own that asks "what does this even mean? which door would be better? why do you keep changing where this sign is hung?"

if nothing else, is should be good for a laugh.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:27 PM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Was the first sign written in another font? Perhaps Comic Sans or Papyrus? One that the woman couldn't abide looking at each time she came back inside to her office?
posted by blueberry at 12:35 PM on March 31, 2013

Response by poster: While all your answers were great, I still think this one is UNRESOLVED! Hmmmmmmmm.
posted by kbennett289 at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2013

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