April 20, 2004

Whobo? Hobo!

Who doesn't love hobos (apart from people who actually have to interact with them)? Today I am pleased to present you all with a cavalcade of hobo-related links.

First, Lore (formerly of the Brunching Shuttlecocks) takes on hobo signs over at The Book of Ratings. (Make sure to check in next week for part two.)

To see a whole mess of hobo signs, go here. My vote for the creepiest one: "Woman living alone." Most mystifying one: "There are crooks around", with a symbol resembling a fraction in which the numerator is 2 and the denominator is 10. Are the hobos trying to imply that dishonest men do not properly reduce their fractions? Most useless: "Afraid." Unless the hobo who writes that sign sits next to it until someone else comes along, how is he supposed to be properly comforted? And at that point, wouldn't it seem more appropriate to say, "Hey, I'm scared," than to point at a picture of two rectangles?

I also like the tautologicalness of this one:


If you've seen all you need to see of classic hobo signs, check out this piece I wrote for Modern Humorist a while back about their modern-day equivalents.

Here's one more modern hobo sign that didn't make it to the Modern Humorist piece:

Not actually a car alarm, just a blinky light

If you doubt me when I say there are modern hobos, presumably hiding in the luggage compartments of Amtrak Acelas with their laptops, check out this website. Hobos, you will note, use a rudimentary form of webpage design when advertising their conventions and whatnot. (Actually, that page is two years out of date, but this one doesn't have such an egregiously bad webpage.) I wonder if hobo conventions are like renaissance fairs, with busty ladies dressed in shabby clothes and spouting an endless stream of hobo patter.

Posted by Francis at 01:09 PM

The Afraid sign isn't about hoboes, silly. It means the people in the house are afraid of strangers/hoboes and are likely to react accordingly. There's a variant two rows down and two columns to the right which makes it clearer: "Cowards! Will give to get rid of you."

The 2/10 baffles me too, unless it means the sort of crook who doesn't give fair return on a bargain, as opposed to, say, a thief.

Posted by: Columbine at April 20, 2004 02:10 PM