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gator Responds

In late March I posted a photo of a South Carolina alligator sunning itself near a sign that read “Caution Alligators.” I wondered what the gator’s motive was in putting up the sign, but assumed it was a rhetorical question, expecting no answer.

Wrong. Gators may not be quick to respond, but respond they do. On May 4, I received a letter postmarked Charleston, South Carolina. The handwriting was a bit hard to decipher, but here is what it said:

Dear Human,

As to my motives in putting up the sign, I wasn’t trying to lure anyone in, as you implied. No warning was intended. You’re a writer. Pay attention to punctuation! A warning of danger would read, “Caution: Alligators.” It doesn’t.

Nor does it read “Caution, Alligators,” with a comma. If it did, that would mean that alligators should be on the alert for danger. Which I clearly wasn’t when you took my picture. (Without permission, I might add.) I was sleeping.

No. The sign reads “Caution Alligators,” with no punctuation whatsoever. It is simply telling the passerby what kind of alligator I am. I’m not a dangerous alligator. I’m not an agitated alligator. I’m a caution alligator. No rock climbing, like you. Or mountain biking. Or skiing. Or ziplining. I live my life with caution, and I’ll thank you very much to pass this on to your readers.


Al the Gator, who is also pretty good at grammar — the turtles call me Grammar Gator — if your need some help with your next book.