Monday, July 21, 2008


So last night I was walking home (loving this whole no car lifestyle) and I passed the local gas station. I don't know what kind of gas station this was, but the big local chain is disturbingly named the Kum & Go. I don't know about that name. It doesn't give me a good feeling for several reasons. I wonder what the person who came up with that was thinking quite honestly.

First of all, one of my biggest pet peeves ever, ever, ever is when people spell words with a K that ought to be spelled with a C. I hate it. It's annoying, cutesy and stupid and dammit, who decided that a K is cuter than a C anyway? Why? When I see words like Kountry Kitchen and Kiddie Kamp I want to smack the krap out of someone. What makes it worse is when the K is backwards a la the Toys R Us logo who I blame for starting that shit. Dyslexic people everywhere should rise up against the unfair cute-ification of their disorder and cry out that writing letters backwards isn't an adorable childhood trait! It's a serious disorder which affects millions of people!

At least the Kum & Go's K is facing the right direction. The K here, I don't get it. Spelled correctly I guess the gas station's name would be Cum & Go which brings us into some treacherous territory. Think of the customers who would see that as a command. Imagine the toilet paper they'd go through in the men's bathroom. All kinds of seedy people would think the gas station was a massage parlor, a peep show or a brothel. Perhaps the owner thought the K would fix that because obviously Kum is not the same thing as Cum.

But I think the gas station in the picture above was of a different gas station. A mobile maybe? I can't recall. That's not important. What's important is that this gas station has corn growing in front of it and that there is an angry cardboard sign imploring you to leave that corn the hell alone. Let's do a quick close reading of this sign, because it did, I confess, confuse me.

First off there is corn and it is growing at a gas station. While this is unusual to me, it wasn't that bad. The corn is pretty and makes for nice landscaping and lately I've been on a kick where I think people should use their land to grow food instead of ornamentals. You all know I'm weird like that.

Now the rule is that whenever there is a sign telling you not to do something it is because some jackass has done that very thing the sign warns you against. Apparently someone has not left this corn alone.

The PLEASE!!!! implies some serious frustration on the sign maker's part. This gives me the impression that someone had been messing repeatedly with the corn and would not stop messing with the corn despite numerous admonitions.

The sign could have said "Please don't touch the corn" "Don't walk on the corn" "Don't pick the corn" etc. But the sign doesn't say that and word choice is important. My suggestions for what the sign could have said instead are all pretty low key requests that all say that in case you might be thinking about messing with this corn just don't and all will be ok. The corn needs to grow. If you drive over it, stomp on it or pull on it it can't grow, so don't do these things.

That's not the tone of the sign at all though. The sign is upset. It begs you to PLEASE!!!! LEAVE THE CORN ALONE. The tone of the sign brings to mind a person in agony - FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PEOPLE LEAVE THE CORN ALONE!!!! JUST LEAVE THAT CORN ALONE!!!!!!!!!

For someone to be in this degree of agony over this corn I infer that there were a series of events involved where the corn was molested. I'm interested in the words "Leave the corn alone." That makes me think the corn had a lot of unwanted company. "Leave X alone" is kind of a colloquialism. I've often heard it used in situations like "leave that roadkill carcass alone kids" "leave your grandmother's wig alone, that is not a toy" or the ever popular "leave your pee-pee alone, we are in public for god's sakes." That last one has never been directed at me of course because I always leave my pee-pee alone in public. So whenever you tell someone to leave something alone it is always in a situation where someone is bothering/ playing with some thing that ought not be and they just will not stop.

What was happening to this corn, readers? What? Who would not leave corn alone and why? Were people so struck upon seeing corn growing at a gas station CORN AT A GAS STATION! IMAGINE!! that they lost all good sense and didn't know how to act? Was that it? Or was there something more sinister going on? Some ill-advised fraternity hazing ritual perhaps? I shudder to think. In fact, I shuddered thinking about it all night. What suffering has this corn endured?

Then at 5 this morning we had a terrible thunderstorm with 70 mile an hour winds, which is hurricane strength I'll have you know, and there was hail and tornado sirens were going off and the hackneyed freight train noise (storms you are so cliche, please find a new noise to make, ok? I am totally over freight trains having been through four hurricanes in the past four years). I opened the door and stood looking out at the trees bending, the lashing powerlines and the constant flashes of lightning and I found myself thinking rather unexpectedly.

"I wonder how that cardboard sign held up in this mess. And I hope the corn made it through."


Anonymous said...

Great post. I was laughing out loud here at my desk at work. Please let us know if the sign made it...


L said...

Oh wow, how I laughed. My abs actually ache from laughing. I immediately showed this entry to my brother who last time we were in Iowa bought a shirt from the Kum and Go. He wears it proudly.

I'm seriously going to look for that sign when I go down there next month. It's awesome.

Reb said...

That poor corn! You would think in Iowa that corn would be almost sacred, there wouldn't be a need for a sign.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this guy lives nearby......

Jen said...

Even more funny, there is a town in Iowa called Cumming. It always gets a snicker when we drive through.

Hilary said...

Your sense of humour is a-maize-ing!

Emily said...

The poor corn! I wonder what it had to go through to merit that sign being put up!

Nothing is sacred when the corn in Iowa isn't safe.

Karen said...

I maybe think the corn just needed a little privacy.

Redhead With Glasses said...

The reason the words are purposely misspelled is so the business name can be trademarked. If they spelled it "Come and Go," then it's harder to get the name trademarked, and a competitor could open a gas station with the same name.

TK said...

Maybe the corn is some kind of statement about ethanol, and Iowa's corn going for fuel instead of food.

Or the owners just want a little corn patch... I hope it made it through the storm though!

kerry said...

I love the corn! I agree that we ought to grow useful things instead of (or next to) ornamental things. I agree - leave the corn alone! :)

Sometimes old friends can be reunited. Sometimes not. I've been thinking about looking up one of my childhood friends. Hadn't heard from her for a long time, so I wrote her a letter. I was dating women at the time and included that in the update. I got one Christmas card, written in a somewhat terse tone, and nothing more. I hope for a better end to your situation.

Anonymous said...

Just wait until you run across a "Pump 'n Munch" in the makes the name "Kum and Go" seem blah.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Backstory on the corn. It was there when I first came to college and when I remarked on it my mother (driving me to college for the first time) told me it had been there when SHE was a student. It's been several different gas stations, but I've always thought it was cool that the new owners kept planting the corn every year!


Robin in Ohio said...

Yes, I am also annoyed when I see words intentionally misspelled (Kiddie Kamp, Toys R Us, etc.) A local "misspelling" that is my all-time "low" is one for a beauty supply store. The name for the business is SALON SUPPORT SENTRE! It took me quite a while to decipher this one. Then I realized that they had deliberately misspelled the British spelling of center ("centre")!!

Therefore..."sentre"!!! Arrgghhh!!

Ophelia said...

Kum and Go... that's nothing! Golly, 'round these parts in Pennsylvania we have ourselves a Ho Mart!

(For serious. There is a real place called Ho Mart in Montrose, PA.)

Perny said...

First I want to say that I like your blog. Its funny.

Second I want to say that i my country, Sweden, allmost everything is spelled with K but to make it more cute people here spell things with C so its something going around all over the world.

Anonymous said...

I was just in Iowa over the 4th of July and we had almost the exact discussion about the Kum and Go! I was at work, laughing out loud and couldn't forward the link to my cousin (with whom I had the conversation) fast enough! I agree it is an unfortunate name and believe that the person who came up with it thought that they were being very clever instead of childish and moronic.

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