When I was working as a consultant in the Netherlands many years ago, one of my clients was a small bank. You knew they did things differently the moment you stood in front of the elegant facade. On the main entrance door, at about 30 cm above ground, a discreet sign “No Dogs Allowed” was positioned. If this bank expected a dog to understand this, what expectations did they have from their clients?
What Signs On The Entrance Door
This memory came back to me recently. We had a discussion in the bank about what signs to put on the entrance doors of our branches. The whole discussion started with the obligation to inform visitors that they are being registered by surveillance cameras. In order to do so, stickers with the image of a surveillance camera are positioned on all entrance doors. That is of course perfectly in order. Apparently the police also suggested that a “no guns” sign should be put up. Then, following an internal discussion, a suggestion was made to add a sticker with a crossed out photo camera. More ideas came in and the discussion became more fundamental. Should we apply common sense and expect our clients to have judgment or should we be very explicit about what is not allowed into our branches?
Basically we can identify two groups of people that are carrying guns, those who do so legally and those who do it illegally. The legal group includes police officers on duty and licensed private persons who carry the gun within the limits imposed by that license. The illegal group consists of people that carry a gun without any permit or outside the limits set by the license if they have one. If you are part of the legal group (police officer on duty), why shouldn’t you be allowed to enter a bank branch armed ? And would the sticker on the door stop any illegal carrier of a gun (gangster, bank robber) from entering the branch? (“Damn, just when I was about to rob this bank, I see they don’t allow guns inside.”) I believe we may expect visitors to a branch to respect the law and there should be no need for a No Guns sign.
As a Leica carrying bank client I asked why we felt a “No Cameras” sign was needed. The answer was that – for a variety of reasons – we don’t want people to take pictures in our branches. I would reckon that it ‘s common sense not to take pictures inside a building that is not yours without asking permission, especially when there are also other people present. Apparently this is not always the case and from time to time one has to point it out to visitors who start taking pictures.
No Dogs, No Ice Cream
We also don’t want them to bring their dogs, eat ice-cream, shout at our staff or be intoxicated. Do we need stickers for this as well ? How about knives, helmets, ghetto blasters and you name it. The problem is that, once you start stating the obvious, there is no end to it. The greater the number of instructions, the more precise they need to be. In that case we would need a lot of stickers and a very large door indeed. Every now and then someone would argue that he didn’t know something wasn’t allowed. “It said no ice cream, but nothing about hamburgers” and another sticker would need to be added.
No Naked Men
Not too long ago a probably mentally deranged man was running totally naked down the street, chased by a group of boys. He ran into one of our branches for shelter. Do you think a “No Nakedness” would have helped? ….I don’t think so either.
So, better to apply common sense and judgment and accept that maybe not everybody sees things the same way, but at least they will be able to see through the door as they come in.