I came across the sign pictured here while at a gas station off of a major highway. My first reaction was to giggle. My second reaction was to whip out my camera and take this photo. I know most people don’t love grammar jokes as much as I do but really, I couldn’t resist. Why do you think the store owner chose to use a sign that’s worded this particular way? Read the sign, think about what it means, then read on below.
“Clean restrooms for customers only.” A bit different than the usual bathroom sign, right? So what point do you think the gas station owner was trying to convey? Was it:
A. The CLEAN restrooms are only for customer use, but the DIRTY restrooms can be used by whomever happens to stop by.
B. The restrooms are so clean that you should feel compelled to buy something just so you have the privilege of using the facilities.
C. The cleaning crew should only clean the restroom if customers are around. If no customers are around or only non-customers are around, they shouldn’t even bother cleaning.
Or maybe, just maybe, the owner was simply trying to tell us that restrooms were for customers only. As in, if you aren’t buying anything, get outta here. But the addition of the word “clean” to the sentence makes it feel so different. It makes it feel like there is more to the story. Adding in an adjective changes how the sentence reads because you figure there has to be a reason the sign’s author chose to include an extra word. I’m willing to accept that the writer didn’t even think about it and just threw that “clean” in there. But my grammar-loving brain would much rather believe the word choice was deliberate!