Today I committed an act of vandalism for the first time. Well, maybe not vandalism, but I did alter somebody else’s property without their permission. And it felt great.
I was walking past a local restaurant and bar when I saw a grease board outside that said “Taco’s 50 Cents”. Without much thinking, I slyly licked my finger and wiped away the apostrophe in order to correct the incorrect punctuation. At least I assume it was incorrect punctuation. After all, they could have meant that a particular taco is in possession of 50 cents. But I naturally assume the establishment meant to advertise that they were selling tacos at a cost of 50 cents each, in which case their sign was wrong.
Valarie and I have long daydreamed only half jokingly about establishing some kind of nonprofit organization called the Grammar Police, or something to that effect. Any time one of us saw a sign or other public notice with incorrect grammar, punctuation or spelling, we’d send a notice to the proprietor notifying them of the error and asking them to fix it. I don’t claim to be perfect when it comes to using the English language in verbal or written form, but I am continually astonished at how many errors there are on various signs. It might seem rather innocuous, but I think these error-laden texts are contributing to a culture of lazy ignorance. Today it feels all too permissible to punctuate or spell incorrectly on public signage.
I haven’t taken my vigilante English language fundamentalism to the next level yet, which would be going around in the middle of the night with a ladder to climb and correct the bigger signs out there. But don’t think I haven’t thought of it. And while I had no right to change that grease board today, I must say that I have not one iota of remorse for my crime.