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© 2003
Robyn Gallagher

Coffee and Desert

I was walking down the street when I saw a sign outside a café advertising "COFFEE AND DESERT".

This intrigued me as whilst coffee is a fairly standard menu item for cafés, it's not often that you see one offering desert.

I shifted my glance towards the café. It did not appear to offer the hallmarks of a desert. There was not a vast expanse of sand. There were no palm trees, no oasis. The great pyramids of Egypt and buzzards circling an animal carcass were conspicuous by their absense.

Then I thought that maybe this café was being poetic. That they were offering themselves as a desert in the middle of the city. A hot dry place on a cold and wet day.

Or perhaps they were offering just deserts. That anyone who entered that café would get what was coming.

Then another thought occured to me. Perhaps whoever had written the sign had meant to write "COFFEE AND DESSERTS" and indeed had thought that's what they were writing. Indeed desserts are a common enough menu item in cafés. So how could this mistake have possibly been made? I formulated a theory.

The person who wrote on the blackboard probably also worked behind the counter at the café. They were probably such a highly-skilled café worker that they had spent all their time and effort master the art of their trade that they simply didn't have enough time to learn the basics of spelling. It's also likely that they spent so much money on purchasing reference books on the art of café work that they did not have enough cash left over to purchase a dictionary. And no doubt the life of a café worker is one of such intense concentration and the need for solitude so great that to ask a co-worker to check the spelling would be totally out of the question.

So I entered the café and informed a fellow behind the counter of the error. He responded, "Oh right, oh did we. Oh, ok. Right."

And they say the kids of today don't get taught proper English.