Monday, July 16, 2012

The Sign

During a recent visit to London, my family and I spent a fair amount of time riding the subway train network known as the "Tube". 
Spend any time around the British rail system and you'll hear a particular phrase repeated over and over through the P.A. system:
"Mind the gap".

"Mind the gap" is British-speak, of course, for:
"watch your step going on and off the train",
"look before you leap",
"don't be stupid",
and in every other way "watch your step" - because there can be quite a gap between train and platform at times.

On gondolas we also have a "gap" to "mind", and gondoliers spend ample time pointing it out. 
In Venice, the gondoliers now have a fun and effective sign displayed at many boarding locations which points out "the gap" and other hazards.

These signs went up several years ago, and they came into existence because of one creative, legally-minded gondolier named Giovanni Giudice.

There's a fun interview article in The Guardian that was published back in 2009, which gives a quick profile on Giovanni.
He's got a law degree, but chooses to be a gondolier instead
(yes, yes, insert a variation of your favorite lawyer joke here),
and we also learn a bit about how these "safety signs" came about.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Giovanni when I was in Venice in 2005; he is a spirited and funny guy - just the kind who represents well, and just the kind who would remind us all to "mind the gap".

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