IT’S NOT ALRIGHT
“Private transportation is morally untenable,” I haughtily told a classmate of mine in grad school. I was just giving her a hard time, but I did live without a car for my first five years in Seattle. I spent many, many hours riding buses, waiting for buses, walking to bus stops, studying bus schedules, and generally filling up my single, childless time with transportation issues instead of driving a Miata from one party to the next as I should’ve done in my twenties.
When I finished school and got a job teaching at a high school some 20 miles from my swinging bachelorette apartment, I bought a tiny Toyota Tercel. Bussing to work would have entailed catching a 5 am bus and transferring twice to get to work at 7. And living in the neighborhood near the school would have entailed shopping at the grocery store favored by the gang bangers in the red hooded sweatshirts and covering my ears every time a plane landed at the airport next door.
Even though I swore I would still take the bus sometimes, of course I didn’t. I gained several pounds because I no longer walked half a mile here, two miles there, to catch a bus to someplace else. I missed the local characters I used to see, like the Symptomatic Nerve Gas Guy. But private transportation is so fast! So convenient!
I never ventured on the Metro bus system again, until today.
I’m enrolled in a seminar on copywriting techniques (not to be confused with copyrighting techniques, which is completely different) held at a hotel downtown. I called the hotel yesterday to check on their parking availability.
“Oh yes,” a chirpy desk clerk told me, “it’s $7.00 for the first hour, and $2.00 per hour after that.”
Since that’s a lot of money (I’d be parked downtown all day), and I hate driving downtown (dodge the fearless pedestrians while sandwiched between delivery vehicles!) and I’m a conscientious citizen concerned about global warming and stuff, I opted for public transport.
When I hopped aboard this morning, I looked around for my old friends. Alas, no Symptomatic Nerve Gas Guy was in evidence. Also no wild-eyed derelicts with religious delusions. Not even a disaffected teen with piercings in strange places. Just me and a whole bunch of boring business commuters. What a let down!
It distressed me further when my instructor started talking about the need to break grammatical rules when writing copy. I’m fine with that. Do it all the time. Really. But then she explained that while we used to use the phrase “all right” to express the sentiment “all right,” in modern times it has been shortened to “alright.”
No! It has not! There’s no such word as “alright,” and it does not improve the selling power of one’s copy to pretend that there is. From Wikipedia:
Alright is an alternative spelling of “all right”. It is usually used to indicate that something is good but not great (so-so): “The play was alright.” It is also used as an expression of great pleasure: “We won the championship! Alright!”
Used as a definite distinction from “all right” as in “everything” (all) “correct” (right). To represent “kind of” or “sort of.”
Although “Alright” has been in use for a little over a century, it is considered by most experts to be an illegitimate spelling of the word. This is in contrast to the similar words “already” and “altogether”, which have been used as compound words since the Middle Ages.
Even though it often appears in print, the use of “alright” in any context other than slang is generally frowned upon and may be perceived as purposefully breaking convention.
We don’t want to break convention, do we? Not without a good reason we don’t. All right, that’s settled.
When I attend the second day of the seminar tomorrow, I will take the bus again, because the mass mover experience was all right.
So just ask me if you need to know how to get to downtown Seattle, or you have any grammatical quandaries, all right?