Friday, December 3, 2010
THINGS THAT SUCK #2: “Please PrePay in Advance”
Continuing my series on things that suck, we revisit the problem with gas pump signs, though at a different station. What is it about signs? I see more language mistakes–or at least, the odd choices like THINGS THAT SUCK #1–in signs and displays than elsewhere. The gas pumps in Richland, MI, at a station dispensing BP–everyone’s favorite “we can’t plug our leak in the Gulf of Mexico” brand of petrol–feature a sign that reads: “PLEASE PREPAY IN ADVANCE.”
How is this possible? How does one pay before one pays? Because if one prepays in advance of paying, then one has already paid, so why would that person pay again?
This makes my head hurt in the same way as the fatherhood of John Connor in the Terminator movies but much, much more painfully. The time conundrum of the Terminator films had some gaps: why send only one person/Terminator back in time? If one has all the time in the world to accumulate resources, why not send a whole squadron to protect Sarah and/or John Connor? But the paradox is the bigger gap: How did the first John Connor exist to send Kyle Reese back in time to be his father if he had not yet sent Reese back in time because that’s in the future?
The Terminator puzzle can be explained away by arguing alternate time lines or even that the first John Connor’s father was not Kyle Reese.
However, paying in advance of paying is a much more annoying cycle of confusion. Why pay in advance of being in advance? If one pays in advance, one has paid. Haven’t I written this already? I have prewritten this idea in advance of writing it.
Of course, the solution for this sign is much simpler than the solution of the John Connor paradox.
Either one creates a sign that reads “please pay in advance”
or one creates a sign that reads “please prepay.”
I do prefer the former. “Prepay” is one of those words that has snuck into the dictionary from our modern mangling of the English language, much the same as using “Google” as a verb. My Spell Check does not regonize “prepay” as a word anyway, and, thus, it does not exist, unless John Connor sends it back to us from the future to father himself after defeating Skynet.
~ chris of suckage reporting - 1012.03-15:00