In today’s automated world of self-opening doors and self-flushing urinals, the "Out of Order" sign is a common sight. All technology eventually fails and society has come to accept it. This can be used to your advantage simply by strategically placing your own "Out of Order" signs. Print up a couple at work today and carry them with you, just in case. Here’s a couple of ideas, from my own personal experience, to get you started:

The Commuter Train
This was my first experience with utilizing my own OoO sign. The commuter train I take to work each day is packed and getting off at the end of the line can take a few minutes as a hundred people try to exit through 2 doors, one at each end of the coach.

So I placed an OoO sign on one of the doors. Since the doors slide into the wall of the train when they open, passengers boarding the train don’t see the sign. As the train approaches the station, people approaching the door see the sign and walk down to the other door.

By the time we've stopped, everyone is crowding the other door while I wait by myself at the OoO door. Result: I’m the first one off the train and I’ve avoided standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd of commuters of dubious personal hygiene.

The Office Restroom
The bathroom at the office where I work contains 3 stalls. Two are the regular size, and one is the handicap, or how I like to think of it: "the wide, spacious, comfort stall". Of course every guy in the office goes for the comfort stall as well; until I hang an OoO sign on the door. Now not only is the stall free whenever I enter the restroom, I can also be (slightly more) sure that it is relatively clean when I get there. Of course maintenance pulls the sign off at night, but I’ve got a supply ready to replace them.

The Vending Machine
Our vending machine at work is always running out of Coke, leaving me to choose between 3 types of diet whatever and Five Alive. A small OoO sign on the Coke button and viola! The Coke remains stocked until the guy comes to pickup the money and takes the sign off.

Note: The life span and volume of people fooled by the above signs can be greatly increased if your OoO sign is printed on some official (or at least official looking) letterhead paper.

The "Out of Order" sign concept, if not the words, can be utilized for a number of other purposes. For example, a "Broken. Do not use." sign taped to the good chair in the meeting room will not only assure you a seat at the next meeting but you get the good chair too.

Clean freaks and OCD suffers may benefit from putting a "Use Other Door" sign on one of the two doors leading into your office/apartment/etc. The majority of people will use the other door and you’ve just decreased the likelihood of contracting some disease (or whatever it is that makes you twitchy about) spread by door handles.

Reserve your parking spot for tomorrow by hanging "Reserved for (insert any name here)" on the wall at the end of your spot.

Of course there are also a number of OoO variation signs that are just plain amusing:
  1. "Door sticks. Pull hard." on a door that that pushes to open.
  2. "Washroom out of order. Please use mens/womens." on each restroom door at your office/department store/etc. Sure some will just ignore the sign, but just as surely some will not.
  3. "Push button to open door". Hang this one over top of the sign designating the "Emergency" button near the door in the underground parking lot.
There are plenty of uses for "Out of Order" signs and many more for its variations. Try placing a couple of your own and you too will quickly realize the value of a bit of unjustifiable, anonymous misdirection.