This morning, I saw a most peculiar sign. And I seemed to be the only one who noticed.
This morning started out slower than most mornings, for me. I didn’t sleep well last night, and that caused me to be a little slow in rising this morning. Normally, I’m out of the house early. But today, it was already light outside when I left the house. I drove to my regular coffee haunt, as I do almost every morning. Got out of my car. Walked inside and took my place in the line, waiting for my turn.
There are two registers in my coffee joint, but only one line. People wait their turn in that one line. And, when they finally make their way to the front of the line, they’ll either go to the register on the right or the one on the left, depending on which one is free first. At least that’s the way it usually works. But not this morning.
This morning, as I made my way gradually toward one of the two registers, I noticed a sign at the front of the line. Someone created it on a regular sheet of white paper, and did the lettering in their own hand. The left hand side of the sign had an arrow pointing to the register on the left side of the counter, with the words, “Drip coffee, this side only.” I wasn’t confused. Since I always get a cup of drip coffee, I knew I’d need to use the left register.
But the other half of the sign was more perplexing to me. The right hand side of that sign had an arrow pointing to the register on the right side of the counter, and this is what it read:
“This register for
Does that look strange to you? Not the “This register for a …” part of the sign. Not the “Lattes,” or the “Cappuccino” or the “Espresso” part of the sign, either. The thing that caused me pause was the “Ect.” part of the sign.
Ect? What does “ect.” mean? Oh, of course I know what they meant. They meant, “etc.” They meant et cetera. We all use that phrase several times a week. The dictionary on my computer says it means, “one of several or many unspecified things ….” Etc. is used to indicate that a list contains other unspecified items. What that person who made the sign intended to say was, “If you need a latte, or a cappuccino, or an espresso, or some other drink that needs a shot of espresso in it, you need to stand in the line to the right.” That’s what the person who made the sign meant.
But that’s not even close to what they actually said.
They reversed two important letters. Instead of etc., they wrote “ect.” And that’s what caught my attention.
We all know what etc. means, but do you know what ect. means? A whole slug of people stood in line for coffee this morning who didn’t have a clue what they were in for. Ect. is an actual abbreviation for “electroconvulsive therapy.” Yep, it means, “shock treatment.” Don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. This morning, there were five or six people standing in line waiting for either an espresso, or a latte, or a cappuccino, … or electroconvulsive therapy treatment (I wonder how much one of those would cost?).
So what’s the point? Only this: Be careful today which “line” you stand in. Every day, we walk out the front door assuming we know what we want, anticipating that what’s ahead is what we expect. But the forks in my path may be more than I imagined at first glance. What I sign-up for every morning can be as simple as a cup of coffee. What often messes with my head is the shock I never saw coming.
Ps. 16:8 “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”