How far is it?

Exactly 111 metres to the Optician’s Shop © Ricky Yates

The picture above is of an advert on the window of vacant retail premises near where we live. It is advertising an 80% reduction on the cost of frames and a 70% reduction on the cost of lens at an Optician’s Shop further along the street. But how far away is the Optician’s Shop? It isn’t a simple round 100 metres. Nor is it slightly further at 110 metres. No – it is exactly 111 metres!

This is an example of something we see quite regularly on a variety of signs here in the Czech Republic. An exactness in distance that borders on the absurd. For from where is it 111 metres to the Optician’s Shop? The poster itself is about 2 metres wide. From which end of it does anyone start measuring? And is it 111 metres to the beginning of the shop window, or to the shop door, or until one arrives at the shop counter?

Kaufland is 1.1 km away © Ricky Yates

Kaufland is 2.1 km away © Ricky Yates

Here are two more examples, this time for the benefit of car drivers, advertising how far it is to drive until you reach our newly opened Kaufland Supermarket. But surely 1 km and 2 km would do perfectly well? Once more it begs the question as to where in the Kaufland complex is the end point of this exact measurement. The route a car would take from the vehicular entrance on the public road to a car parking spot, well exceeds 100 metres.

If anyone can offer me an explanation for interesting Czech phenomenon I would love to hear from you. As always, comments are welcome. However, I do think there are some Czech people who do see the absurdity of this over-exactness with regard to distance. Possibly one such person is the owner of a shop called ‘Hardware & Software Services’, an interesting English name for a Czech business 😉  As you can see in the photograph below, this shop is only 1 metre away. However, the advert is on the side of the shop building and the entrance door is literally around the corner!

Exactly 1 metre away! © Ricky Yates

9 comments to How far is it?

  • Phill

    England are only 3 games away from becoming European Champions! That’s just around the corner!

  • But there are times that .1 matters!

    • Ricky

      Yes Karen, there are. But not on an advertising sign pointing you in the general direction of a particular supermarket 😉

  • I also noticed that very often in Prague on the ads they write very precise distance. And I asked a local merchant. He replied that it started with a small cafe. The owner of a cafe thought it was funny to write the exact distance. And others have followed suit.

  • Martin Borýsek

    Ricky, I fear you might be slightly optimistic about the last poster. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shop-keeper’s intention to assure his customers that they really don’t have to go very far were sincere and genuine (-:

    But I did identify one clear case of self-irony related to this phenomenon (this time concerning times, not distances). There was a professor of philosophy at the Faculty of Arts in Prague who advertised on his office door that he was there for consultations every Tuesday from 14.13 to 17.58 and every Thursday from 13.07 to 15.44 (or suchlike). I never took his lectures, but I was seriously tempted to come and knock on his door one minute earlier and wait for his reaction (-:

    • Ricky

      Martin – I very much enjoyed reading your example of Czech exactness in time rather than distance. But what a pity that you didn’t ever try knocking on the professor’s door one minute early 🙂 I would loved to have heard about the outcome!

  • This is a bit amusing because of how people find it necessary to put up the exact measurement of the distance from that post to the establishment it is pointing to. It’s even funnier because I complain about the same thing like how 500 meters isn’t exactly 500 and I do think it is better if they put up the right measurement to make it not misleading. I wish the people from where I am would do the same thing.