The semicolon, what Frank McCourt calls the yellow traffic light of punctuation, is common in literature but rarely appears in advertising copy. Which is why the sight of it in a public service ad on the New York subways is striking to grammar groupies. The ad beseeches riders to take their newspaper with them when they leave the train: “Please put it in a trash can; that’s good news for everyone.”
The subterranean resurrection of the semicolon prompted Sam Roberts to reflect semihumorously on the period hovering over the comma. His essay quotes Kurt Vonnegut: “When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life. Old age is more like a semicolon.” Read what Roberts has to say; you’ll enjoy his essay; I know you will.