Something about the sign bothered her. Nothing wrong per se, no misspellings, no misplaced apostrophes indicating a possessive where there should have been none; but still, it stuck in a crevice of her brain, if such a thing as a brain crevice did even exist, of which she wasn’t sure because she hadn’t taken a science course in years, and which she would be sure to look up later in the dictionary, or at least on dictionary.com, which was her constant companion on such meandering, run-on forays into the things that irked her like this smallish sign on the inside of the bathroom stall door in Old Navy.
PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH
DIAPERS, OR TAMPONS
Sure, the sign Powers-That-Be had opted for the series comma, which wouldn’t have been her choice had she been at the editor’s desk. But the use of a period indicated that this was intended to be a complete sentence, uttered by an authority somewhere overhead, making requests of squatters in this most intimate of spaces. And as such, it was missing a definite article.
The missing ‘the’ piqued her curiosity as much as it irritated her. Logically, there was certainly room for it in that last line. Aesthetically, it would have improved the sign, lending a near-symmetry by adding letters to that last line, and creating a better, if still imperfect, balance to the text in the five-line poem of the sign. But someone decided not to banish all attempts at symmetry, and didn’t include it. She wondered who that person was, the editor at the sign factory, if such a thing existed, and whether he or she took his job seriously. Who had a grudge with a “the”? What kind of editor—nay, what kind of person—allowed a sentence to be printed, in white letters on a bright red sign, without a vital definite article?
She was there again, in the bad place. The one where she looped into a cycle of grammatical insanity. (Shame on you for using a sentence fragment for dramatic effect, she self-scolded.) She had to get a hold of herself, and with some difficulty, shook off the thought, flushing it away.