The comma stood on the corner, bleating, “Please, can someone help me? I know I belong somewhere, but I can’t quite remember where.”
Devon Taylor, copy editor, sat at the counter of the diner across the street and watched as passers-by skittered around the pitiful punctuation mark. They looked away determined to not notice it.
Devon (destined to become The Nib) couldn’t really blame them. Commas were notoriously slippery creatures. But there was something about this comma that made Devon think it was truly in trouble.
The editor set down the empty coffee cup and wandered across the street.
“What brings you to Conjunctionville?” Devon asked the punctuation mark.
“Oh! Thank you for helping,” the comma was practically hopping. “I think I’m supposed to meet a couple of independent clauses for a job, but I can’t remember all the details. It was supposed to be set up by the FANBOYS. I read over a couple of news stories, but they don’t seem to want commas hanging out with conjunctions that link independent clauses. I just don’t know what to do.”
“I’m a copy editor, and I’ve noticed more and more news sites (like our competition, the Pencil Post) have been leaving you guys out between independent causes joined by a coordinating conjunction. I thought it was some sort of cost-cutting move.”
The comma, dejected, said, “I was convinced I’d always have a job. Sure, those Oxford commas have it rough what with some people using them and some not. Who thought anyone would eliminate commas in compound sentences?”
“Well, the Associated Press Stylebook sure doesn’t,” Devon said. “It specifically states you should be in there, and most news organizations follow AP – or at least say they do.”
Devon’s heart went out to the comma which was, by now, in tears.
“Look, I have a connection at the Department of English Language Offenses. It’s just two blocks down the street on your right. When you get there, ask for Detective Dis Connect. Maybe he can help you. Tell him Devon Taylor sent you.”
The comma confidently strode toward the DELO. Devon wasn’t so sure it could be helped. The world was changing, and writers seemed to be getting lazier.