“You’ll never believe it, Ernest,” said Frank with just a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“What’s up, my friend?” asked Ernest.
Frank and Ernest had been friends since school days. And Ernest had got used to knowing when something was bugging his friend.
“My wife always leaves things until the last minute,” said Frank.
“This letter needs posting first class today. And she doesn’t even have a stamp for it.”
“Where’s it going?” asked Ernest as he squinted at the fancy handwriting on the plain white envelope.
“Preston… all the way up north,” said Frank.
“Hey! I need to drive up that neck of the woods… delivering some printed stationery to one of my son’s customers in Lancaster,” said Ernest.
“It’s only a short detour to Preston. If it’s so urgent, we could drop it off on the way. Fancy the ride?”
“Err… why not?” said Frank. “We’ll be back for tea, won’t we?”
Obviously, Ernest had forgotten how bad the M6 could be.
And soon they were stuck in a 10-mile traffic jam.
“It looks like we’ll be here for some time,” muttered Ernest as he switched off the diesel engine of his Ford Focus.
And as the engine noise quietened, it was clear from the silence that everyone else had done the same.
The normally frantic M6 traffic had become rather tranquil.
Nagging Family Matters
“So how’s the wife then?” asked Ernest, breaking the silence.
“Yeah, she’s doing great, thanks,” replied Frank. “Apart from those frequent questions.”
“Yeah! Things like ‘what’s the difference between stationary and stationery?’ How am I supposed to know that?”
Ernest turned to look directly at Frank.
“So what did you tell her, then?”
“I borrowed her iPad, asked Google, then read it out to her. But she forgot as quickly as I did. And she keeps asking me. How is a chap of 70 supposed to remember these things?”
“What’s up?” asked Frank, getting a little perturbed that his friend found his little bit of ignorance funny.
“You know what… I used to have exactly the same problem,” said Ernest. “It’s OK for you though.”
“What exactly do you mean, it’s OK for me?” retorted Frank. “You don’t have to put up with my wife’s frequent questions!”
“You’re right. I don’t. But when your son designs and prints stationery, and you deliver stuff for him…”
“Go on…” said Frank.
“Well, you need to know whether you’re delivering some envelopes… or a car that’s parked up.”
It was clear to Frank that his friend had worked out a solution to this great British problem.
“So how do you tell the difference then, mate?”
Ernest paused in a moment of thought.
Now it was Frank’s turn to stare at his friend.
“Go on, clever clogs.”What's the difference between 'stationary' and 'stationery'? Here's a great story to help you find out and remember. Click To Tweet
“Tell me…” began Ernest. “What are we in right now?
“That isn’t difficult. We’re in your car, mate.”
“Correct,” replied Ernest.
“Is that it then?” asked Frank, now more perplexed than ever.
“Spell the word ‘car’, Frank.”
“Are we back at school, mate?”
“No, go on. Spell ‘car’.”
Reluctantly, Frank played along.
“C. A. R.”, he said.
“And what are the last two letters, Frank?”
“I’ve no idea where this is going, but I’ll go along with it. They are AR.”
“Great,” said Ernest. “Now tell me if our car is moving or is stationary.”
“That’s easy,” said Frank, laughing. “We’re very much stationary right now.”
“And that’s your answer,” said Ernest, proudly.
“A stationary car has an AR in it.”
Ernest watched Frank’s face as he attempted to get to grips with that last statement.
Suddenly the light dawned.
“Wow! That’s brilliant, Ernest,” blurted Frank.
“Yeah, I know,” said Ernest. “It’s saved me a lot of embarrassment.”
He could tell Frank was really made up.
“Ready to tell Sarah when you get home, my friend?”
“Too right, I am!” said Frank.
“Just one thing though…”
“What’s that Frank?”
“What about the other one? Stationery – with an E?”
“That’s easy too,” said Ernest.
Frank was getting confident at this now. “Let me guess,” he said. “Is it something to do with the E in Envelope?”
“Spot on, my good friend!” said Ernest. “That’s exactly right”.
Frank’s face displayed a broad smile. “OK. So just to clarify…” he said.
“If it’s stationary – as in not moving – I think about the car… c.A.R.“
“But if it’s stationery, it’ll fit in an Envelope… with an E.”
“Absolutely right, Frank,” said Ernest.
For the next ten minutes, the two men sat silently, each contemplating their own successes of the day.
“Why are we the only ones stationary? Looks like the traffic’s moving again. Let’s get this stationery to Preston!”
They both laughed out loud, Ernest fired up the engine, and they headed north.
Perhaps they might still make it home for tea after all.
If you still don’t get it…
remember Amazon Echo
– because Amazon is
in selling stationery.