Hi wonderful people— I hope you are safe and (sorta) sane out there.
Back in May of the year-that-shall-not-be-named, I noticed that I was subconsciously documenting the pandemic through iPhone screenshots. You may remember
that post. A few months later, I recognized an additional form of my documentation: taking photos of signs. Signs of the pandemic (no pun intended).
During the year-that-shall-not-be-named (fine, this hyphenated thing is annoying, I give in: 2020), our world radically changed. And, naturally, the signs posted in store windows, on street corners, in airports, etc. all changed with it…providing us direction, information, and sometimes even comfort or humor as we navigated our new world.
Below, are some of my favorites.
January 4, 2020 | Months before the world fell apart, we spent the day as a family in San Francisco. I snapped this pic. Little did we know.
March 3, 2020 | Somewhere between the world beginning to fall apart and totally falling apart, the yoga studio I was helping to manage was still open. The staff was going crazy with the label-maker and sticking these suckers on every surface of the studio. Fastest path to enlightenment? Washing your hands for 20 seconds.
April 27, 2020 | On my neighborhood walk, I noticed the local elementary school’s marque: “4/13 RETURN TO SCHOOL”. It was 4/27 already and not a soul was to be found.
June 7, 2020 | All over the neighborhood, people started scattering painted rocks. Most of them were cheery or funny and made me smile. Moments of joy.
August 2, 2020 | Look closely at that sign. It says “Please deliver ALL packages to the front door.” This, friends, is not the front door. Not even close. Hope this resident had a crane to get these suckers closer to the door.
August 3, 2020 | Mom and Dad left me in charge of their house for a week while they went camping. Dad’s words in red, Mom’s in black. Pandemic priorities are clear.
August 29, 2020 | A documentation hybrid for me: I screen shotted a friend’s photo of this sign on Instagram. Could it have been more direct or accurate?
September 19, 2020 | At the beginning of the pandemic, this restaurant just had the word “OPEN” in large letters outside. Evidently, some people had their doubts. So in September they added a few additional signs, allowing them to *assure you* they were open! (In November, they added a large blown-up armadillo outside to further emphasize their openness.) Open. Open. Open.
October 10, 2020 | A table at a taqueria in Chicago I visited. It’s the little signs, sometimes, that draw my attention the most. The fact that the pandemic has seeped so deep into every interaction we have and move we make…still shocks me.
October 12, 2020 | University of Chicago was truly deserted when I putzed around its grounds. But you know, safety first. 6 feet, people. 6 feet.
October 17, 2020 | I’m a sucker for handmade cards. Also a sucker for handmade signs. This one, posted in a florist shop in Chicago, really made me smile.
October 17, 2020 | Six months into the pandemic, United was getting witty with its signage. Have to admit, I kinda loved it.
October 29, 2020 | I walk past this sign every day, but for some reason it really hit me that day. In the midst of an autumn surge in cases, my mind interjected an additional word as I walked past: Please [COVID], slow down.
November 14, 2020 | Another small sign and brilliant indicator of sanitization, at the Hertz rental car office in Kona, Hawaii. Who would have thought a little dot could make me feel so much safer.
November 9, 2020 | A few days after the US election, I came across this sign and interpreted it politically. Yes, politically. I took a picture of it and posted it on Instagram, labelling the straight line as four more years of Trump and the right curve as a shift to Biden. “It was a close one,” I wrote, “Thank god we didn’t miss that turn.”
December 11, 2020 | Special points go to the sign-makers who add local flare. Spread Aloha, not germs. All the way.
December 12, 2020 | C’mon, would a pandemic sign collection be complete without some anti-vaxxers? They’re out there every Saturday morning on the local highway, maskless and proud.
December 23, 2020 | Good news is, the rest of Hawaii (besides those two dozen silly-brains above) are PRO-MASK. And they often have a cute way of showing it. Creative kudos to the local supermarket and their emojis.
December 24, 2020 | The local post office in Kona has a few signs. Take your pick. You can’t go wrong!
January 12, 2021 | A handmade new years card from a friend. Not a sign, per say, but I’m going to hang it in my room as if it was one. Happy not-2020 to all!
Have you come across any fun / interesting / poignant pandemic signs? Email me them, I wanna see. And stay tuned for documenting strange times, pt. 3. I have some phenomenal screenshots of pandemic text messages (names removed!) to share.
In the meantime, stay safe out there. Sending love. XO