Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Of Rants and Pet Peeves

Maybe I just frequent the wrong places, but I am getting a little put out about the grammar, signage and general ignorance of the English language in public places. Some of the things that you are likely to see include:
  • Congradulations!
  • The ubiquitous backwards N
  • Cards signed from the Miller's
The worst infraction that I have come upon recently is the overly polite gas station manager. Now I am stereotyping here. I experience this mostly in gas station convenience stores, but it also exists in fast food establishments, retail stores, restaurants and almost any other public location. The manager is overly polite because one or more of the following are true:
  • He/she is sorry that something is not working.
  • He/she is sorry that a particular product is unavailable.
  • He/she is sorry to inform you that something is not working or that she/he is out of a certain product.
  • The rules have been changed concerning cashing checks, payment options, hours of operation and/or where smoking and/ or loitering are allowed.
The problem with all of this is the note. There is an apology note posted somewhere so that you can know what the problem is and how sorry the manager is. Here are a couple of examples:

We are sorry to inform you that we are out of regular gas. Thank you for your understanding.

We are sorry for the inconvenience, but our urinal is currently out of service. Thank you. The manager.

You have seen these, right? Wouldn't a simple "Out of order," be just as effective? Do we really need a lengthy explanation and apology?

I was in McDonald's recently. I got a cup from the counter and proceeded to the drink fountain. It was like a telephone pole on a college campus. There were signs all over that thing. There was one that said, "Due to the fact that people are stealing our pop, we will no longer be offering free water cups. We are sorry for the inconvenience." Another one said, "Please forgive us, but free drink refills are only for McDonald's customers and only on the first visit. We regret this change." There was one that said, "Drinks are only for McDonald's cups only. (It really said that.) We can no longer allow customers to bring cups from home." I quit reading after I got through the one that said, "Only customers with McDonald's cups and pre-approved haircuts can use this drink fountain. I am sorry for those who do not qualify. Thank you for understanding. Signed, the manager." (It was not really signed and there was no name given for the manager.

Maybe I'm a little too sensitive at this point, but I say, "Say what you have to say and be done with it. Do not apologize for company policy. And to customers who may be offended: Grow up.

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