I drove past a gas station today, and something about the threes in the prices didn't look quite right. Upon closer inspection, they had all been put up backwards and upside-down.

I've seen the same thing with W's and K's in similar signs all over the place. It's not really a big deal (after all, the meaning of the sign hasn't been altered); it just reaches out the OCD side of my brain, taunting me because there's nothing I can do about it.

Having a manually-updated sign in the 21st century is more a pain now than ever, and I guess they leave it to the dumbest employee to have to go out there and shuffle numbers and letters around. But does it really take the most overqualified person on the clock to put a number in the right spot?

The most blatant thing that stands out at me on these types of signs, though, is the use of a backslash. It was present in a short-form date (e.g. mm\dd [sic]). But the backslash's use doesn't limit itself to signs.

The backslash will pop up absolutely everywhere, and when you least expect it. And it's never appropriate.

“But what if I'm on the internet typing in a URL?”


Those are slashes. Regular, plain-jane forward slashes.

You use them for surfing the internet, dividing twelve apples into four equal groups, and even for writing the date. Interestingly enough, you never really see people accidentally writing a percentage with a backslash.

The only time a backslash is ever okay is if you're using DOS. And nobody uses DOS anymore, so we don't really need it. Yeah, Windows still uses the backslash, but it will auto-replace your forward slash with a backslash.

So, to all those radio voiceover announcers and corporate CEOs, stop saying ‘backslash’ just because you think it makes you sound smart. All it's doing is exposing your ignorance.

And if you're the one changing out manual signs, take an extra second to make sure the letters and numbers you're posting are turned the right direction.

Upside-down threes make me twitchy.

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