"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for approval, I can tell you I don't have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills -- skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you leave my language alone right now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will punctuate you."

Monday, May 28, 2012


I pass by this sign a lot, and it bugged me because I could never figure out what the hell it was supposed to be. I would tilt my head or squint my eyes, but nothing seemed to help it come to me. The closest I could come up with was that it was some kind of letter R, but that didn't seem very satisfying. To me it looked more like a silhouette of Squidward Tentacles from the Spongebob Squarepants show.

I eventually found the answer on line, as you will see. I could have and should have started there, but being of a pre-internet generation, I still tend to try to solve mysteries the old-fashioned way: by piling into a cool van full of hip late-1960s characters and a talking dog...wait, that's not right. Anyway, I decided to start with the horse's mouth method and paid a visit to the establish. I asked the Indian (as in ""from India") man behind the counter what the symbol was. He said he had worked there for four years and still didn't know, even though people occasionally asked. Since I had never heard of another Reliance Gas, I asked him if they were a chain or an independent. He said they were independent.

Then I turned to the internet and quickly found the Reliance organization and their corporate logo, hence:

As you can see, there are some similarities, especially if you allow for the fact that the blue version at the top of the page is basically backwards. A major difference is that the flame shape inside the R in the real logo is...well, just all wrong in the blue version. It looks like someone tried to recreate the logo freehand from a dim memory or a hastily drawn sketch by another person. Maybe they at least had it right-side around, but the sign got installed backwards?

I wonder if the employee who said they were an independent was telling the truth or just didn't understand the question. Reliance used to have over a thousand stations in the U.S. They closed about 900 stations in 2009, then reopened about 800 of them a year later. Perhaps this station was part of the corporate family and kept the name when they were cut loose but had to change the logo. Maybe this station never was a part of Reliance Industries and is just blatantly ripping off the name and (sort of) the logo. The fact that the employee said he had worked there for four years, which would have put him there during the Reliance restructuring period, but apparently had no knowledge of the real Reliance logo seems to give credence to my second theory. We may never know.

I know this isn't related to grammar, spelling or punctuation, but logos, like all symbols, are a type of visual communication. When I see a symbol that just makes no sense, I feel compelled to point it out.

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