fun with bag signs: in which i am photographed removing garbage from my neighbourhood

Are there bag signs where you live?

In Mississauga and perhaps most suburban places, people put up bag signs advertising services. The signs are cheap to buy and easy to post. They are also illegal. To me, they are the Nexus of Evil: advertising plus visual pollution plus polyethylene waste.

I have called 311 to complain about these signs in my neighbourhood, and if the City has someone available, they will sometimes dispatch a crew to remove the signs. Presumably this crew is also doing other outdoor maintenance, or perhaps they are driving around removing bag signs, which would be awesome.

Allan and I also remove these signs ourselves. When we lived in a house, we would throw the signs in the garage until enough had collected, then bundle up the vinyl for trash and the metal frames for recycling. Now, while we're out with our dogs, we'll just put the whole thing in a public trash barrel.

This morning while I was out with Diego, I slipped the vinyl off a bag sign, crumbled it up, and threw it in the trash. As I turned the corner, I noticed a car parked across the street, the driver removing something from the trunk. Then he walked towards me, carrying a sign.

Diego and I watched as he pushed the metal frame into the ground. I said, "You know that's illegal, right?"

Sign man said, "Are you a city councilor or a police?"

Me: "No, I'm a resident of this neighbourhood and you are polluting it."

Signman: "It is only for a few days, then I will come back and remove it." Ha!

Me: "That doesn't matter. It's illegal. As soon as you walk away, I'm going to remove it."

Signman: "You cannot do that. Only a city councilor or police can do that."

Me: "That's incorrect. I've called the City and they said it was fine to remove these any time."

Signman: "If you remove this sign, I will take your picture and I will sue you!"

Actual Photo of Me Throwing Out the Sign
Me: "Great! Excellent. I will give you my name and phone number right now. Let's exchange phone numbers and you can sue me."

Signman: "I don't want your name and number! I will take your picture!"

Now, I am not a lawyer, but I think it might be difficult to sue someone if you only have their photo, but not their name.

Me: "Ok, get ready." He backed up -- I assume because of Diego's presence -- and I stepped forward to slip the vinyl off the frame.

He took out his cell phone, and I smiled and posed with the crumpled sign. I normally hate being photographed, but this was fun.

As Diego and I walked away with the sign, Signman shouted after me, "See you in court!"

"See you there," I said. "Have a nice day!"


allan said...

What is the fine for posting these illegal signs? If the City actually enforced this law, they could have a HUGE revenue stream. ... To pay library workers!

John F said...

Here's a story that you'll like. The two candidates running for Mayor of Halifax this year have agreed not to use any lawn signs.


laura k said...

Nice!!! Thanks for sharing. :)

johngoldfine said...

Laura! You are such a tough guy--I mean that as total praise, no sarcasm. Hey, you're the kind of person who could lead a union to the successful conclusion of a strike! Get your satisfaction from backpack makers! Conquer bullshit landlords! Imfuckinpressive every time you see injustice or stupidity, small or large!

But did he really say, 'Are you A police?' The 'A' always seems to me to be USAian regionalism/colloquialism/class marker. But I'm willing to be schooled otherwise.

laura k said...

He said "Are you a police?". Exactly that.

I don't have any associations with that expression. In fact, it stuck with me because it seemed odd. Where does it come from or belong for you?

I walk away from plenty of injustice. You have to, don't you, to live in the world. And I lose plenty of battles, like everyone else. But thank you for saying I am a tough guy. I like that. :)

johngoldfine said...

I associate 'a police' with a TV show like 'The Wire'--full of urban black English. Not 'the police,' not 'a police officer.' 'A police'--it's economical and indicates both familiarity and the contempt familiarity breeds, analogous maybe to students calling out, 'Hey, teach.'

...little research project going now: found this:


But I'm guessing the usage filters up from the streets to the station house, not the other way around.

laura k said...

Interesting! Either the usage extends to other groups, or perhaps the man was flustered and not formulating his sentence carefully.