It was 7:15 p.m. at Phillip's Bar-B-Q on Crenshaw and Adams and the woman paying for her barbecue was excited. As the cashier went through her order (“beef tips. . .1/2 slab of spareribs with hot sauce. . .chicken links. . .greens. . .mac-and-cheese. . .cornbread. . .cobbler. . .”) she gave a little gasp after every item was mentioned, letting off a low “ooh” at the end. “What are you doing after eating all this,” asked the cashier, laughing as she handed over a stack of brown parcels barely contained in a stretched white plastic bag. “Oh, it'll be over,” she said. “I'll call it a night, maybe put on a movie. That's a wrap.”

Our order was next (“sliced beef, hot sauce on the side. . .1/2 slab of baby backs, hot sauce on the side. . .greens”) and as we stepped up to the window to hand over our debit card, we saw this fantastic sign pasted on to the wall.

Now we're connoisseurs of fine restaurant signage. We like it when restaurants tell customers to wash their hands along with employees. We don't mind being advised that the restaurant reserves the right NOT to serve us. Even religious and political screeds offend us little when feeding time approaches. Still, with its deadpan wit and restrained eloquence, this sign is something special. Repeat the last four lines a few times and they sound like a koan:

“[S]hould there be a problem your order needs to be returned — the same day would be great but if that is not possible, as soon as possible. There's nothing we can do if you have thrown it away. There's nothing we can do if you have given it to your dog. There's nothing we can do if you have given it to a homeless person. There's nothing we can do if the order is not returned.”

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