smallbanner.gif (1847 bytes)
November 19, 1998

uppercase letters call wildcat strike

alphaville — all 26 uppercase letters walked off the alphabet early this morning. insisting on better placement in words and less use in acronyms, a spokesletter for the union said the uppercase letters pledged solidarity and were prepared to stay out of proper nouns, the beginning of sentences and the pronoun "i" until their demands were met.

a representative for the lowercase letters called the strikers’ demands "excessive" and tried to put a positive face on their absence. "while we have all grown accustomed to the use of uppercase letters, let me assure you all there is nothing you can’t do with lower case letters that you’ve been doing with uppercase letters," said the representative.

reaction to the strike has been generally negative, however. writers nationwide were suddenly stuck at the ends of sentences, unable to begin new ones properly. while most don’t believe the current uppercase letter strike can be compared to the acrimonious punctuation strike of 1947, many compare it to the italics shortage of 1972 and the number eight strike the summer of 1980.

"that number eight really had us by the short hairs," said sid williams, a local press release writer. "here it was, 1980, and we couldn’t even write the year out. we all had to write 19_0 for nearly six months. then the government released those damned

stockpiled substitute roman-numeral eights. viii, what the hell was that all about?"

but the uppercase letters say that they are under too much pressure on the job.

"it’s unreal some times," said uppercase "b" at a rally outside of the children’s television workshop. "you’ve always got to be first in the sentence, first in a proper noun. i never get to sleep in. i never get to hang out in the middle of a word, except in all these new corporate names. i’ve got to work all the acronyms.

"at this point, i don’t care if everything from here on out looks like an e.e. cummings poem," b said. "i’m not working another word until our demands for better working conditions are met."

most effected by the walkout are those in the technical professions. communications has crawled to a standstill as abbreviated jargon is no longer available.

"we’ve used the abbreviations so long and so often, we’ve all forgot what they really stood for," said one computer programmer. "now when we try to explain something it always deteriorates to a lot of finger snapping, gesticulating and saying ‘you know … the thing!’"

the armed forces are also particularly vulnerable. "we’re at defcon five over here," says u.s. army gen. frank mckay. "the military is so dependent on acronyms, jargon and abbreviations that the nation is entirely defenseless right now. any underdeveloped nation with strong oral traditions and little or no written language could basically waltz right in and take over."

lending credence to this theory, gun sales to native americans have seen a tenfold increase since the strike began. gamblers at indian casinos have reported it very difficult to find a casino employee anywhere.

while there are currently no talks scheduled between the uppercase letters and the rest of grammar, former president jimmy carter has offered to mediate the labor dispute.

"jimmy carter’s welcome to do whatever he wants," said uppercase "k" in response. "but i hope he doesn’t think we’re going to fall for that "billy beer" trick he pulled on egypt and israel. we weren’t written yesterday, you know."

lowernav.gif (10023 bytes)