Of late, I've spent a lot of time in hospital and nursing home corridors - thanks to my wife's surgery,and her subsequent rehab program admission.
At the hospital , I noticed signs posted near the water fountains : DON'T DRINK LEAD (with accompanying Spanish translation) ; and I was curious - but much too distracted by circumstances - (my wife was close to dying) -to pay close attention.
Now that I have a few more minutes, I decided to take a closer look at one of these signs. Produced as a cooperative venture by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the NJ Department of Health. it warns people who drink tap water to let it run for a few seconds, so as to remove any lead that might be present on the water line. (Cadmium, of course is a far more likely pollutant, but is not mentioned.)
If the sign raises questions in my mind , I wonder what effect it has on health care workers : a percentage of whom are probably low on literacy skills, and even more deficient in basic science.
Might not such a worker assume the water fountain was contaminated with lead ? That it should be avoided ? Might some also conclude the water supply itself is contaminated with lead (It isn't) and that patients (nursing homes prefer to call them "residents") were being put at risk every time they were supplied with a pitcher of water from this source ?
Apparently the Management of the nursing home got some flak on this subject;because, a few days later,the State-mandated signs were moved away from the drinking fountains,and placed on other walls.
I'm sure anyone reading this could come up with a list of questions to ask the "Nanny-State" administrators who came up with this bright idea. One that comes to my mind is : "Couldn't your talents be utilized more effectively elsewhere - let's say at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Kazakhstan ?"
Another sign caught my eye (proof my wife is making great progress in rehab) : It was in Spanish-no English translation offered-and it advised workers discrimination is against the law.
Momentito,por favor: Does the fact this (mandated) sign is offered only in Spanish mean there is no likliehood workers who speak English, German, Urdu, Hindi, French,etc. will never be discriminated against ...or does it mean someone in government decided to placate a particular pressure group ?
Is this not a highly visible form of ethnic discrimination in and of itself ?
To the administrators who authorized and mandated the posting of this sign in racially,ethnically mixed work places : How about a permanent transfer to the Mato Grosso of Brazil ? You could, when not clearing undergrowth,or shovelling cow manure, post signs in Spanish on the walls of outhouses. The fact Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking land should not trouble you -but you might want to keep an eye out for unhappy Brazilians !