I just had my first brush with the law for the sake of grammar! I’m proud that it happened so soon.
I’ve been taking some wonderful long walks lately. I go by Tufts sometimes, and the sign for “Professors Row” has always bothered me. This is the row of the professors, therefore it should be Professors’ Row.
Do you think an apostrophe was in place?
Anyways, I originally went up there to change the sign yesterday, but realized that I was far too short to do so. I had also misplaced my comma stickers, so there really was no point. I went back today with a folding chair (I couldn’t find my stepladder) and my five-inch platform slides, and I had found my packet of punctuation stickers.
I tried to reach it, and I was about three inches too short to reach the sign. Hmmmm. Clearly, I would need to find someone to help me.
That area of town isn’t short on walkers, so I grabbed the first guy I saw. He was about thirty, bald and perhaps 6’2″ or so.
Me: “Hi! I was wondering if you could help me with something. I need to get a sticker up there. I’m too short, even with these.”
I show him my platform slides. He looks at me skeptically.
Me: “I actually run a grammar blog — it’s thegrammarvandal.com. It’s a great blog, really. I go around and correct grammar. The Globe is doing a feature on it this week. It’s great stuff.”
Me: “You see that sign? Professors Row is missing an apostrophe. Could you just help me put it up there? I’ve got that chair right over there.”
Me: “Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.”
Guy comes over and stands on the chair. He can reach the sign — and he starts putting the apostrophe between the R and the S in Professors!!
Me (shrieking): “NO! NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! THAT’S NOT WHERE THE APOSTROPHE GOES!! THIS IS THE ROW OF THE PROFESSORSSSSSSSSS!”
Guy: “Oh, sorry. What do I do?”
Me: “AFTER THE S! AFTER THE S!”
He pulls it off and sticks it on the end. It’s flimsy and part of the black has come off, making it look messy. I do not like messy. It looks terrible. I’m going to ask him to rip it off and put on a new one instead….
And then a police cruiser stops, the words Tufts Police emblazoned on one side. (Side thought: I wonder how many years it will be before Fairfield decides to change its name from Public Safety to Fairfield University Police, spending another few grand in a pointless fashion.)
Cop (yelling): “What are you doing?”
Me: “Just fixing the sign.”
Cop: “What are you doing to it?!”
Me: “Officer, this is incorrect grammar. Oh, and I don’t even know this guy! I pulled him off the street!”
Guy looks more terrified than the average man when confronted by a cop in a Tufts Police cruiser.
Cop: “Are you together?”
Me: “No! He was on the street! And tall! I’m too short to reach the sign!”
Guy jumps on the chair, pulls the sticker off, and hands it to me.
Guy takes off like a bat out of hell.
Me: “Officer, I was just trying to correct the sign. Don’t you see that an apostrophe is missing?”
Cop: “Yeah, before the S?”
Me: “NO! Not before the S! We’re not talking about one professor here! This is the row of multiple professors, meaning that the apostrophe should be AFTER the S! Let me tell you about the blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Globe will be doing a feature on it that will appear in the City Weekly section this Sunday….”
Cop: “Okay, okay.”
Me: “I just need to fix it. Now my tall guy is gone.”
Cop: “Well, I hope you find another one.”
Cop drives away.
I walk around and look for somebody else who is significantly taller than me. There are fewer walkers by now. There’s a baseball game going on in the field, but only three girls are watching, and they all seem to be short.
I walk around for a few minutes, then see three college-aged students — two guys and a girl — who each appear to be around six feet tall. I wave to them.
Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you guys could help me. I’m in need of a tall person who can help me put a sticker up on a sign.”
Me: “I run a grammar blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Sunday Globe is doing a feature on it that will be appearing this Sunday in the City Weekly section. I go around and I correct grammar errors. You see that sign for Professors Row? It’s missing an apostrophe. Is there any way you could help me?”
Cool Guy: “Sure.”
Me: “I appreciate this so much. Thank you. It’s that sign up there — the one with the chair perched next to it. A cop stopped me earlier, but don’t worry. He’s gone now.”
Me: “Yeah, he said I could do it, as long as I had another tall guy. You should have seen the guy who helped me before — he got so scared, he ran away! Ha. But it’s cool, since the cop said so. Good times.”
Me: “It drives me crazy that the apostrophe isn’t there.”
Cool Guy’s Male Friend: “Yeah, between the R and the S, right?”
Me: “No!! This is the row of the PROFESSORS! Multiple professors! The apostrophe goes AFTER the S!”
Cool Guy’s Male Friend retreats, probably thinking that I’m some kind of psycho. We eventually get to the sign.
Cool Guy: “So right after the S?”
Me: “Yes, right after the S. That would be perfect. Thank you so much, again.”
Cool Guy puts the sticker up. It’s a bit askew, and it’s not facing the direction that gets the most traffic, but I don’t care. I’m not going to ask him to put it on the other side, too, even though it will continue to drive me crazy. He has to work to get the sticker up, and he’s done enough.
The end result:
And, just so you can see how tall this sign was:
What a day. I’m exhausted from all the effort. But I’ve made another difference, and I am educating the general populace about grammar. Even if nobody ever sees it, I still gave a lesson in grammar to Guy, Cop, Cool Guy, Cool Guy’s Male Friend and possibly Cool Guy’s Female Friend (even though she said nothing the whole time). I hope that everyone goes on to use apostrophes appropriately in their respective lives.
If Cool Guy is reading this, thanks for the help, man!