The Infinite Et Cetera, More Powerful Than the Next

The clerk yelled, “Next!”

Tesco punctuation

Tesco punctuation (Photo credit: cole007)

I stepped up to the counter.

“What can I get you?” he asked.

I stared at the seemingly infinite choices on the shelf.

“Well?” The clerk glared at me.

“Uh . . .”

“Hesitation is a sign of weakness. This is no place for the meek. You need fortitude to pick among all the items on the shelf. No guts, no turn. Time for you to step aside.”

I white-knuckled the counter, exhaled and then channeled the confidence of Brangelina. “I can do this,” I muttered to myself. “I’m ready,” I said.

“Too late. Next!”

I wouldn’t budge. Even the much feared tap on the shoulder from the customer next in line didn’t make me waver. “I won’t leave until I get what I came for.”

Grumbling from behind.

I glanced over my shoulder. The line had doubled in size since I had taken my place at the counter. I shrugged and turned to face the clerk.

The clerk glanced across the room. A sheen of sweat covered his brow. “Okay, okay. Just relax.” His gaze settled back onto me. “Fine. Tell me what you want, and then get out.”

A smile curved my lips. “Etc . . . ,” I said.

Et cetera I presume "etc..." is the ...

“What’s that?”

“Etc . . .  is the thing I’m looking for.”

“The power of infinite mores,” the clerk gasped. “My God, I didn’t think it was possible. Are you sure you don’t want a semi colon instead?”

“As soon as you give me et cetera, I will leave.”

The clerk’s cheeks blanched, as he whirled around to face the shelves. After searching from one end to the other, he grabbed something, turned and stuffed it into a bag.

“Is that it?” I asked.

The clerk nodded and stapled the bag shut. “Take it!”

I grabbed the bag and held it against my chest.

“Now, get out!”

“But I haven’t paid for it yet.”

“You will,” he warned. “No one gets an etc. without paying for it.”

A lump lodged inside my throat, as I followed the line out the door.

“You’re a fool,” shouted a man with a bulbous-shaped head. “We need boundaries.”

“That may be true for you,” I said. “But I always need something to look forward to.”

 What’s your favorite punctuation mark?

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23 Comments The Infinite Et Cetera, More Powerful Than the Next

  1. Pingback: Lauren Salkin

  2. Timkeen40

    Though I sometimes have no idea where to put them, commas are my favorite. They are understated yet powerful for setting a clause apart for emphasis?


    1. Lauren

      I have trouble with comas, too. But they are much needed pauses in sentences. I think I’m growing less fond of the semi colon, which has nothing to do with my upcoming colonoscopy.


    Hahahaha! I want to go to this store! Though, I am a bit afraid of that grouchy counter guy.  I would order a bunch of periods, because I like to use them as dot, dot, dots…  Dots give my mind, and hopefully the reader’s a deserved rest between my strings of words. They also give me time to gather my thoughts……like now…….

  4. Juneohara65

    Oh. My. God. That sign is unforgivable!

    I’m disappointed to discover that you’ve become disillusioned with the semi-colon. I believe it’s my fave, but I have to be careful not to abuse it.

    Such a creative post. Your imagination never ceases to amaze me.  

    1. Lauren

      Actually, it’s the colon because of the aforementioned impending colonoscopy. The semi-colon is a wormhole into the next sentence.

  5. ReformingGeek

    I don’t like periods, comas, or colonoscopies as they are usually followed by Etcexdrins.


  6. Jayne

    Lauren, this is just damn genius!   Maybe my fave of all of yours I’ve read.   You really had me going and then that last line.   POW!   

    And my favorite, as I told SNEE, is the ellipses, although I’ve always used it as a pause from my years of writing dialogue for TV scripts.   I’m not even sure if I use it right, but I like the way it looks.   

    1. Lauren

      Hey thanks… Gotta love the ellipses – and dashes a.k.a. the mad dash – Did you know that semi colons aren’t all there? And commas can put you in a coma if there are too many. I’m a comma abuser. I wonder if there’s a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 step program to help break the comma habit. Maybe, I’ll just stick to periods and be a demanding punctuation bitch.

  7. mommapolitico

    It’s a toss-up, Lauren. I love the ellipsis, but it can be overused. And I adore the semicolon because I can keep talking and talking, well, writing and writing. So before I begin to subject you to that, I’ll sign off…but not before saying that I loved your post! 

    1. Lauren

      Thank you!!!!

      Ellipses seem to be the overall favorite. I agree they should be used sparingly … as semicolons should be; you need to change things up when writing — Personally, I’m a fan of the dash — for dramatic emphasis.
      I wish I was more skilled in the usage of #*#$@!! punctuation.

  8. Our Penguin In Havana

    Really? He stuffed your ‘etc…’ in a bag? Did it survive? The last time I took one home in bag it was all tossed up and transformed into ‘.e..ct’ when I took it out and I’m too afraid to find out what it means. Do happen to know anyone who’s willing to trade for ‘.e..ct’? I’ll take any reasonable offer.


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