Letter: A Punctuation Mark’s Plea

Dear Mr. President:

I need your help. My name is period. I am a mark of punctuation, the smallest, in fact. I am typically found at the end of a sentence as I signify finality of thought, yet I am often overlooked; people seldom seem to notice me and many ignore me altogether when they text message. But while I have been gradually losing my position and fear I may be totally unemployed in a generation or two, recent events have made my employment more precarious.

Needless to say, I was thrilled over the last few years when you emphatically used me to punctuate your position on the new healthcare legislation. When you said, “If you like your healthcare, you can keep your healthcare, period,” I was so proud. I was used in a presidential speech. You didn’t say, comma, or exclamation point; no, you said, period. And I knew you meant me, the mark of finality and nothing more. You were sending a clear message.

But, Mr. President, may I say, I was hurt when I realized that you really did not mean to use me, but meant to use asterisk. I feel, well, used, and a bit maligned. I realize that asterisk is very attractive, and I am just a dot, so-to-speak. Asterisk, on the other hand, is somewhat like a period that is going in multiple directions, and, maybe, you meant to use asterisk, because your meaning seemed to have been going in different directions. You used me to deceive the American people, and that, sir, disappoints me.

Now my name is being dragged through the media and late night comedian crowd as if I had been part of some conspiracy to mislead the American people into accepting a program that, had asterisk been actually used, they would have understood and not accepted. My meaning and purpose have been damaged, and I find myself now being followed by other punctuation marks, as if I needed help. Maybe it’s paranoia, or maybe the NSA, but being followed is not what a trusted part of the American language should have to endure.

I am so discouraged. ): Oh no, now I am troubled by a single parenthesis and a colon. Will I need colon care? Will I be able to see my doctor? Will my insurance be cancelled like so many others? Can I afford to buy the new insurance? Will the web site work? So many questions. It is reassuring that my friend, question mark, is being employed a lot now that more Americans are waking up.

Mr. President, please help me restore my reputation and purpose and keep my job. Please tell the American people you misspoke (a euphemism for an untrue statement with intent to deceive).

I do not want to face unemployment. If I stay in the 7.3 percent for over six months, I will be forgotten and no longer counted, a discouraged worker, one of the millions of unemployed not reported by our government. Of course, I could hope to be assigned to a shovel-ready job, but, alas, Mr. President, the only thing we have noticed to be truly shovel-ready in the last five years have been your speeches, and your speeches were what got me into the predicament I find myself in now. So, on second thought, Mr. President, I really do not need your help, period.

Glenn Waters, Royal Palm Beach


  1. This is one of the most creative and laugh-until-you-cry letters ever to appear in The Town-Crier and ought to be shared with other newspapers!

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