Street Signs title image: a sign shop on Șoseaua Ștefan Cel Mare
It’s always good to know the language of the country you are traveling through or living in because it’s helpful to know what’s going on in the public sphere. Street signs tell a good story.
Here are a few examples in Bucharest I’ve encountered in the past couple of days:
Street Signs with Emotional Appeal
The #pebune? caught my attention. Pe bune is the Romanian equivalent of Really? or maybe even Are you kidding me?
The #pebune? bit made me think of the American DON’T EVEN THINK OF PARKING HERE sign, because the Romanian sign: i) has to do with parking, and ii) is non-traditional. However, it isn’t the arch I-can-read-your-mind American version. Rather, it’s an appeal to the heart.
It reads: People with disabilities don’t want this parking space but yet they need it.
The idea is: You, the able-bodied person, wouldn’t want to need it, either. Be considerate.
Street Signs with Surprising Specificity
This is the sign in the bathroom of my favorite restaurant in Bucharest, Torna Fratre. The words in red letters say “Don’t Throw in the W.C.” …
… and are followed by this list:
Other objects that can stop up the plumbing.
Now, let’s review …. Teddy bears? Okay, I can imagine that the stuffed animal of some kid some time – and likely more than one, hence the inclusion of this item on the list – found its way into the toilet bowl and got flushed. But stockings? I suppose they’re already half-way off when a woman goes to the bathroom (pantyhose, anyway), but then you have to take them all the way off and deliberately flush them. Seems weird.
But then again there’s the tag in some clothing that reads DO NOT IRON WHILE WEARING and, sure enough, I’ve ironed a skirt or two when I’ve had it on. So people do weird, irrational stuff.
Streets Signs Signaling the Usual Urban Hazards
You’re walking down the street and you see this sign:
Cade is ‘fall’ and Tencuiala is ‘mortar.’ Heads up!
Bucharest is hardly alone in presenting hazards from above.
Since 1979 New York City has required regular façade inspections to prevent bricks from falling on unsuspecting pedestrians. Nevertheless just last month in the NYC neighborhood of Chelsea a pile of bricks fell off a building.
This list of things falling off buildings in New York City is truly astonishing and includes flying plywood, window-unit air conditioners, the occasional bowling ball and an acrobat. Read about it here.
So, yeah, in cities, stuff is known to fall out of the sky.
To be honest, in all the many times I have seen the CADE TENCUIALA sign almost anywhere in Bucharest, never once have I looked up to see whether any mortar was raining down on me.
An acrobat would be kinda cool, though.
Street Signs Signaling Unusual Urban Hazards
A visitor to Bucharest would do well to heed this sign, which is called a bulină roșie ‘red dot.’
The red dot announces that the building has been officially inspected and is in the highest risk of collapse during an earthquake.
Bucharest is seismic.
People still remember the Big One of 1977 which killed 1424 people and wounded another 11,000.
Earthquakes happen all the time in Romania, and they are under constant monitoring by the Romanian Seismic Network.
People generally expect that another Big One is in the offing for Bucharest and are happy for the occasional small ones that let off steam.
See: All My Romania Blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen