WE’RE ALL USED TO SEEING so-called ‘polite notices’ – which aren’t polite at all, of course; the word is there simply so that, at a glance, we misread the as ‘police notice’.
Attempts at real polite notices tend to backfire, such as the Thank you for not smoking that used to appear in the back of taxis before smoking in them was outlawed entirely.
Here’s a really polite notice, that I saw at the bottom of a menu in a London restaurant:
Please remember to turn your mobile phone back on
when you leave the restaurant
It’s a masterpiece of concise phrasing, which makes the assumption that of course, you’re far too well-mannered to even think of using a mobile in a restaurant. And of course, because it treats its customers with respect, it works.