Tag Archives: parking

No parking in Oregon, and other absurdities

New Yorker that I am, I don’t often think about compass directions. I go uptown or downtown, and to the East or West Side. So this sign caught my attention as I walked around Seattle last week:









My first impulse was to check the position of the sun and try to determine where, exactly, south was. I located the sun easily enough, but I’m staying in a house with a two-month-old. Was it morning or afternoon? I didn’t know. Nor did landmarks help, because my knowledge of Seattle geography is hazy at best. Next I looked at parking patterns. The sign was close to a corner;  only a micro-car could squeeze into the bit of curb in front of the sign. That direction was probably not south. Behind the sign were maybe fifty parked cars.  Law-abiding Seattlites are unlikely to flout parking rules in such large numbers, I reasoned — no south there, either. At last I figured out the true meaning. Listen up, Oregonians! Pay attention, Californians! You need to head north for parking. As I pondered the meaning of the sign, by the way, I decided it was fortunate I wasn’t driving a car at the time. I might have hit the tree while decoding.

And while I’m on the topic of absurdities — and I am — here’s a ticket stub from a play I saw recently:



I don’t mind paying for the ticket, and I’m semi-okay with the service charge. But paying a fee for a fee is going too far, in the same category as a charge for “shipping and handling” when I’m standing at a box office, holding my hand out for the ticket, which the cashier places on my palm. Why is that “shipping and handling”? At Madison Square Garden, it is.

One more:

Isn’t the very definition of “crime” something that is “punishable by law”? What else would it be, a crime rewarded by free ice cream cones?

It’s July 4th, America’s day to celebrate our independence — which apparently includes the right to hang silly signs and impose ridiculous fee fees. Enjoy your barbecue and your right to express yourself, absurdly or not.

Oxymorons, Again

Consistency seems to be out of style these days. A while ago I posted a couple of signs that contradict themselves (See “Oxymorons” at http://www.grammarianinthecity.com/?p=1195). I keep finding more, such as this one, which hangs over the entrance to a parking garage:

Quik park slowly. Got that?






Yes, I know that “Quik” is part of the name, but you’d think the owner would move “quik” away from “slowly,” if only to keep the attention of a potential customer who’s in a hurry. And is it too much to ask for a “c” before the “k”?

A penny to anyone who can explain what “shop and save for free” means, in the context of bakeware or anything else:

Shop for free?









Not to mention whether (and where) you should brake your vehicle:







Or where you should shop, and for what:

A sidewalk inside?









Either the slabs of cement are ten bucks each or the store is having the equivalent of a garage sale in the dining room. Either way, something’s odd. Bottom line: People often think we New Yorkers are rude (and sometimes, we are). But mostly we’re just confused.

Driving yourself crazy

Pity poor New York City drivers, who have to decide where to “pull” their vehicles – over, up, down, and, well, insert the adverb of your choice. Before I go any further, can someone explain why “pull” is the verb here instead of  “steer” or “drive”? Perhaps we are still holding onto the reins of the horsepower in the engine. If so, it is time to let go.

Back to adverbs, the part of speech that tells where the action is. Check out this sign from a parking garage:

Down you go.

Down you go.


In this sign, “down” is an adverb. It must be. If it were an adjective, the driver would have to grab the “down ramp” (not the “up ramp”) and pull it. I rather like this sign.  “Down”  makes sense because the garage is below ground. Also, the sign is polite enough to include “please.”

Here’s another:

Ahead and up.

Ahead and up.









Now the driver is on street level, so “down” is out and “ahead” and “up” are in. Grammatically, there’s no confusion. But one teensy problem remains. The signs in the left lane, where the driver is supposed to “pull ahead” and “up,” hang over cars facing outward. Maybe “ahead” is short for “head-on collision”? You may also be puzzled by the “return” sign, wondering what else you would be doing when you pull into this garage. The only alternative is driving in circles inside the small empty space under the signage. But because the garage is associated with a rental agency, “return” makes sense . . . unless you look at the other two signs, which direct you to the left lane. To sum up: the signs tell you to pull into the right lane to return the car while simultaneously pulling ahead and up in the left lane.

My choice:  Walk. Otherwise, you may drive yourself crazy.