Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get Along Little Doggies

One of my many skills is as a locator of "the poo." And while I've become great at finding poo-like situations, I've also become an afficianado at side-stepping them. Well, most of the time.

My next journey seemed harmless on the surface. But with a little help from a not-so-neighborly neighbor, one might think I'm a horrible person for sticking a small sign in my front yard touting my doggie store.

A Sign By Design

It was harmless sign, on the surface. A flying doggie and two bulleted lines of copy separated by little doggie bones. Cute, huh? We had folks smiling and double-taking as they went down the street. You see, in a sea of yard signs, ours stuck out because it was advertising a "home-based" business, which later I was told via a red ticket was a violation of shitty code.

So, as an advertising professional, this led me to ponder. Really? A violation? How did they know I officed out of my home? Who cares!?! What's the difference between my sign and any of the plethora of advertising messages I found in my neighborhood during one 30-minute doggie walk (pics shown in this post were taken with my iPhone and trust me, I have more):

  • A new garage for $16,995!
  • Multiple religious signs proclaining "He is risen" (sorry, God, just questioning. I have a friend who doesn't believe in you, so these signs may offend him.)
  • My child's a Stonewall Star.
  • We had a baby!
  • A for sale sign with an Agent glamor shot so big I thought at first the person was for sale, not the house.
  • Painters for hire.
  • New fences for sale.
  • Political signs pushing us to vote "YES" or "NO" (remember in Dallas "YES" means "NO" and "NO" means "YES." Clear?)
  • Even an alarm sign (below) posted on the parkway, which is against city code, too. But we won't tell - that's our good neighbor policy, since it's not hurting anyone.
The list goes on and on. And God forbid if any of these people office out of their home. For shame!

This experience made me realize...

... a sign by its very DNA is like a commercial on sticks. Signs advertise. And at the very nucleus of each and every sign is an ad pushing for whatever message it sports. God. Political views. Things for sale. Whatever.

So while I'm not advocating a 30 foot tall neon blinky Sally's Massage & Nail Salon sign be erected in neighborhoods, what's the beef with a emerging legitimate small business based out of a garage apartment trying to make its way in a crummy economy via an 18" x 24" sign?

To some (or at least two shallow thinkers), the beef was... we existed.

Un Segno

The Italians call it un segno (literally "a sign"). For me, the sign rang clear that this wasn't just a routine "found violation," it was deliberate. As it turns out the city code employee "Oscar" confirmed we were outed by our neighbor (Oscar, props to you for being so cool about the situation).

So it turns out this was just another violation we amassed for being horrible neighbors. Other violations?:
  • Outed for not having a fence permit. Guilty!
  • Outed for having 6 inches of a low voltage lighting cord exposed from underneath our mulch behind our front yard bushes. Guilty!
  • Outed for our dog barking in the back yard. Guilty! (Hey Harley, please don't ever stop being a dog!) Turns out Harley wasn't the nuisance - our neighbors are.
It's starting to get comical at this point.

I think this year we ought to play it safe and read-up on the city codes governing halloween decorations. We're big believers in that. And then there's Christmas.

In the meantime, our wonderful little sign is doing just fine. It's available for parties and guest appearances, as long as you're not advertising your home-based business!

Side Note to Shitty Officials:

This code mumbo leads me to wonder...

...would it be OK if one of our good neighbors posted my doggie sign in their yard? They don't have a home-based business I do.

Didn't think so.