a whimsy by Jackie Houchin
Whatever you call it, it means ‘the end’. We use them to tell readers they’ve come to the end of a sentence. They can perhaps take a breath now before going on if they’ve been reading aloud. Or glance at their watch, or the TV commercial that’s ending, or at a couple children playing. Then back to the story.
These tiny punctuation marks can end a paragraph too, or even a book. Done. Complete. Fini. Close the book, put it back on a shelf, and walk away.
I had interesting battle recently with this tiniest of marks. Standing alone like this . it is hardly noticeable. Right? (You didn’t see that lone dot? Go back a few words.) Well, I didn’t notice this particular one for weeks. And I was tearing my sparse-enough hair out.
Every time I went on our church website to visit the member directory (I try to write Birthday greetings to the members’ kids each month), the security system kept locking me out! And it was only on MY computer. Not on my husband’s. Not on my phone.
I knew the password. I checked with the office manager, just in case I had forgotten the password. I had others type it in. Nope. I kept getting:
RED LIGHT BLINKING!
DO NOT ENTER!
Sigh. Was this “the end” to my birthday card writing?
Then one day, I was determined to try one more time. I opened the screen. Poised my fingers on the keys. Reached up to swipe a bit of dust from the screen. Then…. swiped at it again. Leaned closer, licked my finger and rubbed at the bit of dust on the screen. Realization hit.
It was a dot, a period, a full-stop, right there residing on my password entry box! Every time I had entered the password, that sneaking dot, period, full-stop, added its little almost-invisible bit, and crashed my entry to the site. Once I’d erased it, no problemo! Voila! I was in!
You little rascal, you! You had nearly put an “end” to my attempts to access birthdates. You had fooled me, frustrated me, finally made me almost give up. But one day, I spotted you. I put my curser just to the left of your practically unnoticeable presence and hit DELETE! And you were vaporized.
Hooray! The password worked like a charm!
So, my advice to you, dear reader, is, well, first clean your computer, laptop, or tablet screens regularly. Then, if you are having trouble logging into a site, look closely to see if you have overlooked a dot, period, or full-stop trying to stow away on your password.
And hit DELETE!