Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Message to YOU, Wall: You're Not the Boss of Me!

By Gail P. Smith

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ~ Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind~Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"

“The show must go on.”
For a while now I’ve been feeling bombarded with messages from strangers and, stranger still, from inanimate objects.  These are not imaginary messages just running through my poor over-loaded brain.  Nope, these are actually commands, suggestions, exhortations and requests imploring me to DO things.

“March forward!” 

I suspect it all began innocently enough back in the sixties with this little guy:  Remember him (the shirt, not the model)?

Sometime during late sixties, early seventies he & his chirpy little entreaty appeared on t-shirts. “Hmmmm,” thought some manager somewhere, “Surely that phrase must be magical and will sell more pet rocks or cheese-whiz or tires,” and just like that it became more popular than “Here’s your change,” as a farewell from store clerks everywhere. Thus we all became accustomed to having strangers telling us what kind of day to have just because we'd purchased some toilet paper.

As I’m sure you know, the phrase caught on, and has now become more acceptable than “Bye-bye.”  If you don’t say it when someone is exiting from a brunch or a wedding or a car wash, you’re considered a Philistine unskilled in the finer points modern etiquette.

Of course the next step was T-shirts telling us what do to and some of them were NOT suggesting a nice day.  I’ll have to take on T-shirt wisdom in a different post. 

“Inspire Yourself”

What I’m wondering today is when did this “slippery slope” slide us down into deciding that we need the walls of our homes to “message” us.  And our friends and family as well as to any visitors who may wander over?  Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend.


AAAAHHHH!  Sure, it’s a nice suggestion with pretty fonts, but who wants to come home to this gigantic entreaty-way every day?  It's not that I don’t want all these fine things in my LIFE,  I just don’t want them on my walls, yelling at me every time I’m watching rubbish and eating junk food on the couch. Too much pressure. If the words really wanted to help couldn't they have said, "Think carefully before buying an uncomfortable looking chair in hot pink?"
(By the way, I do believe if you try to” laugh as much as you breathe,” it might cause some serious health issues, not to mention what your family will think. I’m just sayin'.)

 “Take charge and mean it”

In one room especially I do not care to be lectured.  That would be the bathroom.
Let’s leave this kind of nagging where it belongs, with the professionals—Moms.  Real moms don’t trust their walls do the work for them, especially in the “Flush” department.

Having said that I will confess to putting up my own code of conduct in the bathroom one summer when my children were young and trips to the pool were a daily occurrence as were wet towels on the floor:

“Hang up wet things,
That’s the pool rule
If you don’t
They’ll get mildewed” 
(And now you know why I never attempt poetry.  Bad poetry and all, it was effective.)

“Put a little strut in it.”

I had been trying to ignore all these subtle, subliminal, angst-inducing messages creeping into my subconscious, attempting to take a “live and let live” attitude, until last week when that final straw dropped into my lap in the form of a cough drop wrapper.

 Et tu, Halls?

Yes, indeed, even my cough drop was giving me orders and making such personal comments as:

“Tough is your middle name.”  (I thought it was Lynn)“It’s yours for the taking.” (shoplifting?) “Elicit some ‘Wows’ today.” (just scary to think what I'd have to do for "Wows")
What could be the reason for all these admonitions and advice? There it was right in the middle of the wrapper:


Oddly, this does, in some strange way, seem to make more sense to me than the other preaching I’ve mentioned.  After all, if one was ill and taking the cough drop for soothing cooling of the throat, wouldn’t some soothing comments for the day be appropriate?  Nevertheless, I really don’t want a cough drop that tells me what to do, do you?  It’s unseemly, given our brief acquaintance, the fact that we hardly know each other, and that I’m going to be consuming the product and pitching the comments.  After I take a picture of them, of course.

Please tell me I’m not alone in my pursuit to stop this madness where the entire world, including and especially inanimate objects, is now presuming to step in where our friends and family leave off, to advise, suggest and cajole one and all on how to live our life and conduct our business. 

Please join me in just saying “No.” You don’t have to put it on the wall. In fact, I'd rather you didn't. 

Oh, and don't forget to have a nice day.

“Turn ‘can do’ into ‘can did!’ “
All the little quotes in the middle courtesy of Hall's cough drops' Pep Talks.


  1. I love this, and yes, I'm getting tired of being told what to think. Too bad we are all so much better at talking the talk than walking the walk.

    1. Hey, thanks, I was expecting to hear from friends that have those pretty decals on their walls who might fail to appreciate my sense of humor.
      I really do think they're pretty, but... not for me ;-D

  2. Gail, great job on this. You're creative, funny, and warped. That's part of what I love about you. One thing I thought was extra special is the misspelled word on the person's wall--genorosity. I would probably go insane looking at that every day! :-)

    1. That's GREAT, Twila! Soooo funny and typical, isn't it? I never read the text that carefully! Can you imagine if you actually put that on your living room wall?

      Thank you too, for the very kind words. I was just channeling my inner "Twila," wink, wink.


  3. So funny, Gail! Erma Bombeck would be proud!

  4. You can tell what generation I'm from, because I just assumed throughout this post you were talking about a Facebook wall.

    1. Hmm, I see your point. Good thing I used some visuals, eh?

  5. Gail,
    If these walls could talk....I guess they can!
    I'd suggest staying out of Jimmy John's if you have that restaurant near you - :)

  6. I now have found messages to me from my tissues, written on the Trader Joe's tissue box. Stay tuned, I may publish a photo of them.

  7. I loved your comment on the Halls - a Pep Talk In Every Drop campaign. I wrote a post about the campaign I think you will like:

    1. Gail Smith here, just to lazy to go into another browser to respond.

      Thanks, Mike, sorry I'm so slow to respond. I can hardly wait to read what you have to say about this!

  8. I had been explaining to a friend what seething rage I get from the Halls wrappers and did a web search to show her an example. This post popped up and I just want to say it's fantastic. SO glad to know there are like-minded people out there. Thanks.

  9. Dang you Google, why did you erase my great reply?!
    Thanks for the kind words, Christy! Glad I'm not the only one who does not enjoy this incredibly dumb trend.
    And did you notice the misspelled word in the first photo ~ "GENOROUSLY" Guess walls don't have spell-check. Gail