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February 16, 2005 10:54 AM

Broken: Arby's sign

CompacityEdward Carlson writes: Some friends and I found this sign at the local Arby's. How could someone misspell that (on a computer), and then frame it?


You mean there are 118 people who would go to Arby's in the first place??

Posted by: Jay911 at February 16, 2005 11:47 AM

That's just plain sloppy. No proofreading at any point. Either that or literacy continues to be elusive. At least that's a sign that can taken down and replaced. Imagine as mistake like that tattooed on your body.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at February 16, 2005 11:58 AM

Most likely spell-check missed it because it's in all caps.

Posted by: Dave J. at February 16, 2005 12:49 PM

If there are 118 people in the restaurant, why hasn't anyone noticed it?

Posted by: fuzzy at February 16, 2005 01:26 PM

I love the misspelling on the tattoo!

Posted by: Joshua Wood at February 16, 2005 02:29 PM

What's worse about the tattoo is the tattoo artist didn't catch the error either.

I was once at an electronics store and they had a few copies of the same big sign hanging at various places in the store. The sign was maybe 20 words long and had THREE misspellings on it. And it was a professionally-made sign, not just something done on a laser printer. Proofread, people.

Posted by: Jacques Troux at February 16, 2005 02:38 PM

We had one at my work "Please do not feed the pidgeons" over by the outdoor lunch area.

Posted by: Citizen Of Trantor at February 16, 2005 03:00 PM

Catch is, if you even explained the error to the guy with the tattoo, he probably wouldn't believe you...

Posted by: humpton at February 16, 2005 04:42 PM

Scarier yet... they hire people who would be able to misspell this sign and frame it. Is that why whenever I go to Arby's I always get the wrong change? Maybe Arby's needs to have a literacy test before hiring.

Posted by: Kiten at February 16, 2005 04:45 PM

Obviously, Carlos didn't bother to proofread his posting either, at any point. DOH!

Posted by: jackson at February 16, 2005 04:52 PM

No one has pointed out the other major grammatical error in the sign, which is this very sloppy punctuation: "118 -- Guests".

I suppose the rest of the sign might go on to list limits on other entities in the Arby's:

"247 -- Chickens"

"301 -- Small Rodents"

Or perhaps that's a minus sign, not an em-dash: meaning that seating capacity is 118 minus the number of guests already in the shop. Which is to say, 118 guests.

Posted by: Chris at February 16, 2005 04:57 PM

While it is easy to denigrate those you feel are beneath you, you show your own lowliness by pointing out other's short commings. I can't imagine the energy it took to take this picture, post it, but you can't seem to help that person who can't spell. If you feel Arby's is below you why are you there?

Posted by: mm Johnson at February 16, 2005 07:58 PM

We were at an Arby's to get something to drink on a bike ride. My one friend always has a camera with him so we decided to take a picture of it. It's on my website, The thing that really gets me is that it's framed. And the people at Arby's looked at us weird when we took a picture of their sign, like they had no idea (maybe they didn't) and that's the sad part.

Posted by: Edward Carlson at February 16, 2005 10:33 PM

While it is easy to denigrate those you feel are beneath you, you show your own lowliness by pointing out other's shortcomings. I can't imagine the energy it took to compose a reply and post it, but you can't seem to help that person who can't put up with ignorance and apathy. If you feel thisisbroken is below you, why are you here?


Also, in a thread about spelling errors, you misspelled 'shortcomings'. If there's any time to be on high spelling-awareness alert, this is it.


This happens all the time though. My brother makes signs, and he was passing by a sign he had made when something starting niggling in the back of his mind. He looked again and found that one word was wrong. It wasn’t misspelled, it was a properly spelled homonym, so the spellchecker didn’t spot it. The sign had been up in public for about a month, and no one had spotted it (not the business owner, nor employees).

/it happens

Posted by: Phoenix at February 16, 2005 11:29 PM

"Short commings" wasn't mm johnson's only error. Note the punctuation in "other's", which should be the plural posssessive "others'".

And mm, if you think it's lowly to point out errors made by others, why are you on this site?

Posted by: stoo at February 17, 2005 07:26 AM

You have to consider, at what point does it just not matter? The sign communicates its message, even if not very well. It's just not important enough to worry about, except maybe an indicator of poor grammar education in the US.

When it comes to the tattoo, however, that is a problem :)

Posted by: Reed at February 17, 2005 09:35 AM

Some of us don't want to go through life saying it's "good enough". That's why we're here.

Our communication is a reflection of ourselves. Mistakes are forgiveable, but simple sloppiness belies a sloppy person.

Posted by: DaveC426913 at February 17, 2005 02:51 PM

Googling for "seating compacity" [sic] today gives 105 hits. Googling for "compacity" gives 8660.

Posted by: Neil at February 17, 2005 06:02 PM

That isn't all that much...

Posted by: fuzzy at February 17, 2005 08:57 PM might be sites like this warning people about spelling mistakes.

Posted by: fuzzy at February 17, 2005 08:59 PM

Reed asks, "At what point does it not matter?" and seems to think that it's "good enough" if you can figure out what it means ... But let's assume that it's actually important what the seating capacity of the restaurant is, for safety reasons or otherwise. (And if it's not important, why post it at all?) If I can't trust the sign writer to get the word "capacity" right -- or not even come close -- why should I trust them to get the number right? What if they meant to say 181, or 18, or 811, or -- I dunno, they made up the word "compacity" after all -- 47?

This is why it's not "good enough": When you show such sloppiness in basic communication, you break the trust of those you are trying to communicate with. If I walked into that restaurant, I would hesitate to order food; how sloppy is their kitchen staff?

Posted by: E.T. at February 17, 2005 09:35 PM

Re 8K+ hits for "compacity" on Google, there are 320K+ hits for "stoopid" and 6M+ for "flat earth", but that doesn't make them right, either.

There are several learned papers that use the word "compacity", apparently as a synonym for "compactness"; could it be a British variant? Either way it's wrong in this usage, and E.T. has it exactly right: "When you show such sloppiness in basic communication, you break the trust of those you are trying to communicate with."

Posted by: stoo at February 17, 2005 09:44 PM has no entries for "compacity"

Posted by: joe plaugher at February 17, 2005 10:29 PM

Maybe the sign is right after all, 118 guests compacted to make a burger...ugh gross. Now, that's broken trust for ya!

Posted by: vic at February 18, 2005 12:08 AM

I agree with ET and stoo that if *I* were making a sign I would want it to be correct. Or if someone was designing the signage for the Ritz dining room, etched in platinum, that it better be spelled right!

I meant that a quick and dirty handmade sign for Arby's (or "out of order. ``dont' use'' -teh mgmt.") is just that, and in this particular instance (rather than the general hypothetical), some mispelling is not the end of the world.

Or, consider it this way. How do you fix this problem?

Do you make spellcheck mandatory before "print" in Word? Does Arby's have correct spelling be a requirement for being hired? (maybe all those "overeducated" out of work college grads would have an edge then!) Does every Arby's employee go through mandatory spelling and grammar training workshops (maybe some penmenship too so you could write a nice sign rather than using Word). Do you reform the public school system?

These are all very expensive solutions to a problem which has almost no detrimental effect on the business of selling burgers.

Obviously those of us who read T.I.B. are designers or engineers who want to create well designed and usable things. But whenever you do that, you have to consider the purpose and role of your product, and the cost and time.

Posted by: Reed at February 18, 2005 08:51 AM

This is not an uncommon or serious mistake, and it has almost no effect on the business, however, it does slightly damage customers' trust.

Posted by: fuzzy at February 18, 2005 11:19 AM

Reed, I understand what you're saying, and if this had been a "quick and dirty" sign of the type you mention, it wouldn't have merited mention. But, as the original post points out, this sign was printed -- in two colours, no less -- and framed! (It's a pretty fancy frame, too.) It's obviously meant to be permanent, and the truly "broken" part, I think, stems from the contrast between the care taken in presentation and the sloppiness of preparation. (Wow. That's kind of a metaphor for the whole fast food business, isn't it?)

Posted by: E.T. at February 18, 2005 11:23 AM

I am currently in training for a management postion for a large fast food corporation. I have pride in the restaurant I am working in and look forward to running my own. I believe that ET and STOO have hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I am on the assumption that the manager posted this sign. Working on this assumption I would think twice about ordering food from this particular restaurant because the sign is a reflection of how the manager runs things. If he/she cannot make and check a simple sign, how do I know that he/she has read and understand the safe production and handling of food. This sign is definitely broken so therefor the restaurant is broken.

Posted by: claude at February 18, 2005 11:46 AM

I could understand if it were merely a typo. But where did they get this word? It's invented (at least, for use in this context). This sign was made by someone who clearly did not have the slightest idea what the message was supposed to mean.

E.T. is correct. Judging by the whopper of a precedent, the posted number might as well be invented too.

Posted by: DaveC426913 at February 18, 2005 02:39 PM

One time I read a takeout slip that the Applebees people give you when you get it "to go" and it said on it,"Thank you for pulling into a dedicated parking spot."

Posted by: Tan Man at February 18, 2005 04:15 PM

davec426913 said "whopper of a precedent", but that's the wrong restaurant.

Posted by: stoo at February 19, 2005 10:29 AM

But Arby's doesnt sell burgers......

Posted by: Dee at February 19, 2005 02:55 PM

It sells sandwiches...

which are kind of the same thing.

Posted by: fuzzy at February 20, 2005 01:56 PM

I think TIB should be a place where typos and small grammatical errors in people's comments are exempted from criticism (and if you do lambast others for typos/errors, be prepared to have your own comment gone over with an eagle eye). We are all busy people and the little errors on this site are not impacting usability.

Posted by: Oh My! at February 21, 2005 02:41 PM

According to Dave426913, "Mistakes are forgiveable, but simple sloppiness belies a sloppy person."

You might want to check a dictionary yourself, old boy. "Belies" does not mean what you seem to think it means.

Posted by: Alison at February 22, 2005 06:52 PM

I took that picture Edward...check out my website...""

Posted by: Alex Haeuser at February 23, 2005 06:16 PM

Stop busting on Arby's. That's why people work there. Because they didn't go to college. Duh.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2005 08:20 PM

P.S. Burgers and Sandwiches are NOT the same thing. Gosh. You people.

Posted by: Julie at May 30, 2005 08:24 PM

hmm.i agree with julie

Posted by: sabrina at May 30, 2005 08:27 PM

fuck all of you who make fun of arby's.

Posted by: sabrina at May 30, 2005 08:31 PM

VERY disappointed that CAFFEINE FREE DIET PEPSI has been removed from your menu. And that customer comment cards are not available in-store.

This will definitely affect our choice of dining establishments.

Several diners to whom I have spoken have agreed with me.

very disappointedly yours,

Jack Lutz

Posted by: jack lutz at June 6, 2006 08:33 PM

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