Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Punctuation Dysfunction

Here's another story that came through illustrating the perils the punctilious face on the job, especially with regard to punctuation:

I work as an administrative assistant for an appraisal franchise company in Kansas City. A few months ago, I called our preferred hotel to make arrangements for an incoming client. Upon completing the reservation, the (apparently new) hotel employee asked if I'd like confirmation of the guest's stay e-mailed to me. I agreed that would be helpful, and enunciated to him my e-mail address. In a perplexed tone, he asked me to repeat the address. I spoke more slowly for him, this time dumbing down my words, saying "dash" instead of "hyphen." "Oh! Thank you," he replied. "You should have the confirmation in a few minutes."

Two hours later, I called for that "in a few minutes" e-mail, still unreceived. This time, a chipper, much smarter-sounding lady answered. She quickly pulled up the reservation on the computer, and politely asked me to verify my e-mail address. When I did, she said, "Ah-hah. I see the problem. Whoever reserved this room for you used a comma in your e-mail address." She had no idea why I guffawed, until I
explained my earlier conversation. We then shared in that laughter.

Several weeks later, I called to make another reservation. The same chipper, smart-sounding lady answered. At the end of our call, she nonchalantly asked if I'd prefer a comma or a hyphen in my e-mail address, and we started to laugh.

Never mind he didn't know the word "hyphen."

I can understand a person mishearing "slash" for "dash," and inserting a "/," but comma? Why not just give up completely and use no punctuation at all?

I have, on occasion, been known to overuse the comma, but it's ridiculous to assume the comma will just step-up as a replacement mark. Maybe that's what we need -- (I mean ,,) a "replacement" mark. Why not? Complacency is bliss.

Have a great day,

Keith B.

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