A few mornings ago I deliberately and with premeditation defaced a store sign.
Inside the store.
I had gone to the store -- which shall remain nameless -- for my biweekly load of apples and broccoli and assorted other items that disappear from our pantry shelves with methodic regularity. Nutmeg. Steel cut oats. Instant coffee.
Even though I carried a list, I strode up and down each aisle, glancing right and left on the lookout for unexpected bargains. Purposeful. Focused.
Stopped short by a laminated sign crookedly hanging above an empty shelf.
"Due to high demands," the sign read, " we are having manufactured out of stocks."
Hullo, I thought. "Manufactured out of stocks" must mean someone is deliberately manipulating the supply system.
Journalist that I am, my investigative reporter mode began to kick in. What nefarious supplier might be plotting to create panic among an already nervous populace by deliberately manufacturing shortages of groceries?
Or maybe, my more cautious and objective internal editor posited, there has been a resurgence of punishment by confinement in stocks and the demand from those so sentenced has created a market for an escape mechanism. But why apologize? Who would be inconvenienced? Unless the empty shelves meant the manufacturer was hoarding the item to inflate the price desperate prisoners would be willing to pay.
I began making a mental list of people to call, sources to hunt down, Web sites to scrutinize.
Then I read the rest of the sign: "sorry for the inconvenience"
No capitalized 's' at the beginning of the phrase and no period at the end.
Was the sloppy script a ruse to distract me from a more sinister economic scheme?
Puh-leeze. My jaded news-consumer self rolled her eyes. Are you that desperate for your definition of front-page news that you have to see plots and perpetrators under every stone?
With that, jaded news-consumer self marched on, turned the corner and resumed hunting down best-buys.
You can't just ignore that sign! shouted investigative reporter and stalwart editor. At the least, there's an entire educational system to take down: Teachers ripping off taxpayers by taking paychecks without fulfilling their contracts to cram grammar and usage skills into their students! Administrators failing to properly oversee teachers ripping off taxpayers!! Legislators funding administrators who fail to properly oversee teachers ripping off taxpayers!!!
You're right, my jaded news-consumer self agreed, halting our progress toward the produce aisle. Something must be done.
So I pulled out my pad of yellow sticky mini-notes from my purse and scribbled a few words. Then I wheeled my cart around and returned to the scene of the partially mutilated phrase. As I passed the offending sign, I reached out as though grabbing something from the empty shelf and affixed the glaring yellow paper bearing this strident demand:
How about apologizing for the bad writing instead?
So far, they haven't caught me.