A few years ago, I was driving down a side street off Ringgold Road when a church sign struck my funny bone. “Instructions for getting into heaven inside,” the billboard read. And below it: “Now accepting ages two and under.”
“I might be in trouble,” I mused. Most likely, the church was promoting a new nursery service, but who knows? The placement of the two phrases had unintentionally created a single, startling decree. I laughed for miles.
Days later, I kicked myself for not stopping to snap a photo when I noted that the church had changed the sign.
Fortunately, one local journalist has been collecting photos of badly worded signs, as well as misspellings and other goofs that have appeared in social media posts and text messages, and sharing them through his blog posts and newspaper columns.
Many know David Carroll from his long-running stint as a Local 3 News anchorman. He’s also the author of several books, including the locally popular “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley.”
His new book, “I Won’t Be Your Escape Goat: David Carroll’s Ho Made Social Media Blunders,” offers a compilation of the spell check bloopers, voice-to-text mishaps and other slip-ups he’s received from readers and published in his articles.
If laughter is indeed medicinal, then every doctor’s office and hospital room in Chattanooga needs to place a copy of “Escape Goat” within reach of its patients because, oh Lord, it’s hilarious.
I even chuckled while reading the Table of Contents, which promises plenty of fodder for laughter on the pages ahead. I especially looked forward to reading “Church Bulletin Boo Boos,” as these can be priceless.
(For those who have attended only a modern worship service, a church bulletin is a handout that contains an order of service, allowing faithful parishioners to calculate how long it will be until they can leave to enjoy Sunday dinner or catch the kickoff.)
The first chapter, “Education Errors: Plane English” gets the ball rolling with riotous flair:
Comment on a search for a new school superintendent: “I hope they get a good one this time. The steaks are really high.” (I can’t argue with that. Steaks are expensive.)
Ha! I lowered the book to my lap and laughed.
I also noted how easy “Escape Goat” is to read. Most pages contain four to five examples, many of which set the scene with a brief explanation, boldface the faux pas and then offer Carroll’s sometimes droll, sometimes hysterical, always entertaining commentary.
A turn of the page revealed the first illustration by Mike Salter, who contributed the book’s outstanding cover art as well as several drawings that bring the blunders to comical life.
Below Salter’s drawing of a graduate who’s proudly sporting a sash that reads “Valid Victorian” is this comment from a student who’s thinking of skipping school: “It won’t hurt me to miss a day. It’s not like I’m ever going to be the Valid Victorian.”
“Yeah, I think that’s a safe bet,” Carroll cracks.
And so it continues for just over 100 pages. For my money, some of Carroll’s best witticisms bounce off the error. For example, when one social media bumbler writes, “Here are some pics of my little nephew. He’s tuna half years old,” Carroll quips, “When he turns three, let minnow.”
Yes, humor is subjective. Where I howled, maybe you’ll groan. Carroll is a dad, after all, which makes him prone to crafting corny puns and cheesy one-liners. That said, no matter where your sense of humor falls, I believe you’ll agree Carroll packed “Escape Goat” with plenty of sidesplitting wit.
Case in point, this gem from the chapter titled “Random Rants: Make No Misteak”:
“I don’t understand why it’s taking so long to legalize marinara!”
“Well,” Carroll writes, “Congress has to approve salsa first.”
“Escape Goat” also contains photos of several superb poorly worded signs, along with more waggish commentary from Carroll. For example, below a photo of a handwritten sign pointing people to “COVID testing in the rear,” Carroll exclaims, “That’s not what I signed up for!”
Carroll gets in and gets out before the jokes wear thin, making “Escape Goat” a quick read. It took me about 90 minutes to go from cover to cover, including pauses for laughter.
Bite-sized and udderly hilarious, “Escape Goat” is an instant classic. I hope Carroll publishes a second book because the world needs more things that encourage people to stop screaming at each other and laugh at themselves. Like I said, it can be a healing work.
Published by Fresh Ink Press, “Escape Goat” is available for order on Carroll’s website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. It costs $19.95 for a copy signed by the author.
Or, as Carroll winks on his about page at the back of the book, the “Arthur.”
(This review contains one deliberate grammatical gaffe Carroll would likely milk for a joke if he spotted it online or in a text. Did you find it?)