I don't know if "sign engineer" is an actual profession, but it ought to be. If you know Boston, you know that we just don't bother with road signs, which wreaks havoc with the tourists. But I recently discovered that there's something worse: bad directions.
In fact, I nearly missed a connecting flight at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris because of faulty signage. Now I know that customer service is not a particularly strong point of the French, but I don't think even they seek to intentionally mislead anyone.
To make a long story short, my connecting flight was departing from Gate 12. I was at Gate 1, and the following sign is posted here. Already running late, I charged off to my right. Breathless, I arrived at Gate 16. How did I pass Gate 12? A sign here pointed to my left: Flummoxed, I headed back in the other direction. Gate 16-15-10. 10? Now frantic, I started bouncing back and forth between 10 and 15, only to belatedly notice an unmarked staircase. This sign would have been helpful.
Of course, even some of the most highly engineered navigation aids aren't necessarily fault-free. I recently rented a car in Chicago equipped with Hertz' "Never Lost" GPS system. That's my husband's motto, too! I keyed in the address of my first appointment of the day and happily drove off. Close to my destination, the neighborhood began going downhill. As I coasted to a stop in front of a dilapidated, boarded-up building, the GPS informed me, "You have arrived."
Now I know the economy is bad and everything, but it just didn't look like a place where cutting edge technology was being developed. And of course, it wasn't.
In the past, I would have just let it go. But you know what? I think most people tolerate bad quality and poor performance way too often. If we don't let the engineers behind the technology know what doesn't work, they won't know they need to fix it.
So gotta run—I need to go write some cranky letters.