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Apostrophe Abusers: We’re Coming For You

Apostrophe Abusers: We’re Coming For You

Someone has to take a stand against apostrophe abuse. 

It’s not enough to post pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with sneering expressions of outrage.

We’ve been doing that for years and where has it gotten us? 


Apostrophes are mis-sprinkled everywhere and not just on Christmas cards. (Please don’t get me started again on holiday greetings from “The Chadwick’s.” Fact is, I do not wish the Chadwick’s a happy holiday. I wish they’d take a remedial English class and stop torturing the rest of us with their aggressively incorrect signature.)

Some grammar vigilantes once took to vandalizing signs. Tempting. But they got arrested. Besides, climbing on ladders with cans of spray paint is a young person’s game. 

I’ve decided to visit offenders in person and try to reason with them.

I launched my first apostrophe mission Thursday morning. The day before I’d snapped a photo of a sign on Virginia Beach Boulevard for a shop calling itself, “Just Laptop’s.”


I posted it to Twitter and received sympathetic messages from fellow travelers. 

While the Twitter replies were gratifying, I knew I’d changed nothing. The sign is beside a busy thoroughfare. God knows how many people see it every day. It’s a wonder there aren’t crashes as English majors slam on their brakes or cross into oncoming traffic when they spy the flagrantly incorrect apostrophe.

Worse, it’s across the street from a school. Is that something children ought to be seeing?

No, it is not.

I decided to confront the culprit and insist that the sign - signs actually, there are two - be corrected.

Operation Apostrophe went something like this: 

The entrance to “Just Laptop’s” snakes through a long corridor to a service counter. No one was there, but a friendly woman’s voice from the back called out “Be right there!” 

I looked around. There was a small notice on the wall with something about “Kindles and tablets’."

This was going to be harder than I thought.

Just then an employee appeared. She smiled warmly.

I asked if Mr. or Mrs. Laptop was available. 

She looked puzzled.

“I'm confused about the name of your store,“ I said, gesturing in the direction of the parking lot. “There's that apostrophe on your signs. I wondered if the shop was owned by someone named Laptop.”

‘No, it was misprinted,” she said with a sigh.

"Have other people pointed this out?” I asked hopefully.

“Just three,” she said. “...Two were college professors. They said it was driving them crazy.”

“So I'm the fourth?” I asked, showing off my math skills. 

“Yes,” she said. “In 13 years.”  

“Are you going to fix it?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

I mentioned that a small sign on the door was punctuated properly.

"I made that one," she told me. 

I was beginning to feel a tad pedantic. Still, I tried once more, asking if there was any chance that the signs would be fixed.

“Maybe that was the whole purpose," she said, laughing. "It drives people crazy and makes them think about it."

I knew it! They’re doing this to us on purpose.

“Anything else?” she asked politely. 

“No, that’s it,” I said, heading for the door.

As I left, I decided to take one more photo of one of the offending signs. That’s when I noticed another. Just a few yards away in an adjacent strip mall.

Hookah’s Lounge.


I thought about marching inside and asking for Mr. or Mrs. Hookah. 


But it was hot. I was thirsty. Enough for Day One.

Don’t worry Hookah’s. I’m coming for you.

Phoning It In

Phoning It In

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