Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Read the Picture!

Our society is moving towards a universal picture language. Instead of reading words, more and more things are depicted in frighteningly effective advertising symbols.

The other night I'm driving in the third day of consecutive heavy rainfall in Southern California. All I need is to find a Taco Bell.

Nobody told me that Taco Bell was going to be swallowed up by Kentucky Frie...excuse me, KFC. Ok, fine. All well and good.

Except that the words "Taco" and "Bell" are no longer anywhere to be found on these mystery KFC/Taco mutations. Instead, they just throw a purple bell up in the corner of one side of the building. The side that faces the street. My brain, which is apparently a sponge for advertising symbols, says "aha! There's one!"

The mega mini mall that said building is in happens to be surrounded by a bunker wall - with entry all the way in a neighboring State. So I drive in to the designated hole in the wall and try to find the Taco Bell. All I can find is a KFC. See, at this point I still don't KNOW that KFC hosts Taco Bell.

So I drive around. And around. Inside the bunker wall until I'm positive I've just imagined the Purple Bell which I KNOW is Taco Bell's purple bell. I drive back out, and take another pass through the intersection. I see the bell AGAIN. So I drive back inside the megamall and search and search and search. Still just KFC. Still. Serously. Now it's a project and I'm going to find a Taco Bell, dammit.

After a good 20 minutes of searching, I give up and go into the KFC. Yes, there I see that the KFC menu shares space with a Taco Bell menu! Who knew?

Is it too much to ask that the actual WORDS of the establishment be on the outside of the building? It's bad enough that the stupid bell and the KFC aren't even on the same side of the building - on any of it's four walls.

And this whole experience made me think of how when going to a restroom in public places, it almost never says "women" or "men" anymore. It's usually a picture. And the circular plaque is for Women. The triangular one is for men. That makes sense, only because the blind or sight impaired can feel the symbols and therefore "read" the doors.

But they aren't driving around in the rain looking for a Taco Bell in a KFC late on a rainy night.

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