Ramon Presson

It’s a typical early afternoon in the Springfield Police Department’s Grammar Division when the phone rings.

Presson: This is Lieutenant Major Presson with the Grammar Police, how can I help you?  

Caller: I want to report a church sign that says "Guest's Welcome" instead of "Guests Welcome." 

Presson: That's a clear violation of code 457.19 

Caller: What is code 457.19? 

Presson: 457 means misuse of an apostrophe. The second number specifies the apostrophe error. In this case the 19 denotes an apostrophe wrongly suggesting a possessive noun when in fact no apostrophe was needed. In this case Guests would be plural noun, not a possessive noun.

Caller: And who wants an insecure, possessive noun, right?

Presson: Excuse me?

Caller: Never mind. So, I did the right thing by calling? 

Presson: Yes, you did. Dispatch will send one of our grammar compliance and correction officers to the site right away.

Caller: What's going to happen to them?

Presson: Depends on if this is a first-time offense or not. If so, they'll likely get just a warning.  

Caller: What if they've had prior typos or grammar errors on their sign?

Presson: For repeat offenders the penalties range from paying a fine, taking an English class at the community college, or passing a four-hour sign exam using Scrabble letters. 

Caller: Wow, that's major, Lieutenant.

Presson: It's actually Lieutenant Major. And yes, the penalties are stiff but we took the Lindley Murray oath and we have important grammatical rules to uphold. 

Caller: The Lindley Murray oath?

Presson: Lindley Murray is considered the father of English grammar. 

Caller: Of course, how did I forget? Well, officer, thank you for your service. 

Presson: Thank you, citizen.  And be on the lookout for comma splices out there. They're very comma-n this time of year. Common, Comma-n… get it?

Caller: Yea, I get it. Hey, if I witness a dangling participle in progress can I call Crime Stoppers and get a reward?

Presson: Are you mocking me right now?

Caller: Sorry. Hey, are the errors just regarding signage? What if I see a typo or spelling error in a newspaper headline or in a Facebook post? Should I report it?

Presson:  Can you give me an example?

Caller: Well, like the other day, a local donut shop had a special on their Facebook page for what I think was supposed to be Bavarian crème donuts.

Presson: So, what’s the problem. 

Caller: The post said “Barbarian crème.”

Presson: Barbarian crème donuts? Ewww, I don’t want to even think about what’s inside one of those! 

Caller: So, I should have reported that?

Presson: Definitely. See, this is why I don’t text while driving.  The danger of a typo or an undetected embarrassing auto-correct is just too great a risk.

Caller: I know what you mean. I once sent a group-text to my Sunday School class inviting them to our house for a fondue.

Presson: And…

Caller: Auto-correct changed it to a fondle. True story.

Presson: You invited your Sunday School class over to your house for a fondle? My gosh, what kind of church do you attend??

Caller: The next Sunday the pastor saw me in the hallway and cracked up laughing. 

Presson: News travels fast in church.

Caller: Yea, well that was over two years ago, and he says he still can’t look at me while he’s preaching.

Presson: Hold on a sec…

(The caller hears a muffled voice on a speaker phone.)

Presson: Citizen, I gotta run. One of our detectives is in involved in a high-speed car chase.

Caller: The Grammar Police gets involved in car chases?

Presson: Female driver in a Lexus SUV, has a big advertisement sticker on her back windshield that says “Let Me Help You with Waist Management.” 

Caller: I believe that’s a play on words, not a spelling error. You know, a pun.  Her next line could be, “Don’t weight around. Call now.” Get it? Instead of don’t wait around…

Presson: Yea, I get it. I’ve got another call coming in. Goodbye, sir. (activates next call) Hello,this is Lieutenant Major Presson with the Grammar Police, how can I help you?

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at [email protected]

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.