I have two short anecdotes about the sad state of knowledge in America today. My wife went to the store to buy some fish for tonight’s dinner, a fish soup we both enjoy. She ordered a quarter pound of one particular fish. The new clerk at the meat counter scooped a bunch of it and placed it on butcher paper on the scales. It read .41 pounds. She asked if that was the right amount. My wife told her no, she wanted a quarter pound. The clerk, a young woman, asked if that was more or less than what she had on the scale. My wife had to give her instructions to take some off until it reached .25 pounds.
Now I just learned that a large freeway sign has been erected on Interstate 280 in San Jose near the Saratoga Avenue exit. These signs cost over $10,000 each. The sign reads “Saratogo Ave”. I understand that whoever made the sign may not be from this area, but Saratoga is a common place name and has other uses. The Wikipedia page has 31 entries for it on its disambiguation page, including a fish, several battles, and a Chrysler model. CalTrans blames it on a contractor. Perhaps we can’t expect laborers to be able to spell, but I think we can expect them to paint the same letters on the sign as written on the order from CalTrans and we certainly expect those guys to be able to spell the names on roadway signs. Considering the cost of these signs, we also should expect the CalTrans staff and the contractor’s staff (which may be the Department of Corrections) to have close oversight over the spelling and overall accuracy of the signs before they are committed to metal.
I don’t know whether to wallow in dismay at the stupidity of the world or rejoice in the fact I’m not that stupid. Did I just get a better education? Am I just more careful? Have I made any typos in this post? Better check.