PIT BEEF SAT.
Last summer these three words graced the side of our local bar/restaurant, emblazoned on a shiny vinyl sign for all to see. This establishment does a good business, serves above average fare, hosts live music on weekends, and pours plenty of cold brew. Unfortunately, signage is not one of their strengths, and this sign leaves the writer with several questions.
Just where did that pit beef sit? Did it prefer an inside table or a place on the porch? A more apt question might be whether pit beef sits at all? Did it once “sit” but sits no longer?
Yes, I know. What the sign maker meant was that on Saturday the restaurant serves pit beef. Perhaps there was a word limit? Likely they were going for readability and figured abbreviating the day of the week was a satisfactory compromise.
It’s just a sign, right? Well, yes and no. This simple sign is a good reminder of the power of words. Clarity, grace, correct grammar, and good punctuation matter–even in something as simple as a sign on side of a tiny local establishment. Folks notice what we say and how we say it. All it takes is one tiny inartfully placed period to muddle a meaning or give snarky writers like me a cheap laugh.
Maybe someone pointed out this punctuation perplexity to the owner because a new sign is posted this summer:
No period at all graces the new sign. There’s even a picture of a couple of motorcycles to clarify just what kind of bikers are welcome. Guess you Tour de France hopefuls better look for another place to wet your whistle.