Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Jesus Wept

I say that a lot. I'm not sure why.

In my job I collate reports. I edit submissions into a big report then pump it out. I send a big one out a few times a year and smaller ones on a more frequent basis. I prefer doing the smaller ones because I can insert interesting factoids in it to make the surrounding must-read text more palatable. You know, spoonful of sugar and all that.

The last smaller one for the year went out today. I sweat blood on it. I drilled down to obscure formatting rules using the Government Style Manual to make it as perfect as possible for fuck's sake.

So it went out ... seemingly letter perfect.

Yeah ... seemingly.

There was a shout of sneering joy from B, who sits two work-stations up. 'I found a typo!' he shouted with delight after two minutes in.

Yep, in one of the headers I had leaning instead of learning.


I think it was his attitude that pissed me off the most. I'd spent a fuck load of effort trying to make it as rock solid as possible and he took overt delight in pointing out a fuck up.

Now I admit to occasional bursts of ha-ha when I spot a crudely worded sign or an obvious typo. It makes me feel better when others fail. But I hated being on the receiving end of it and it made all that effort I put in feel like ashes in my mouth. I didn't look at all that went right but instead fixated on that small error - compounded as it was because it was in a section about education. Not quite George W saying 'is our children learning?' but definitely up there.

So ... I am going to make an effort not to be sneering joy-joy schadenfreude when I see fuck ups in the future because I tell you what I was steaming mad when I copped that to the face. I even said through gritted teeth 'you know what, it's a long report, there's bound to be mistakes ... just tell me what they are and I will fix them.'

I even felt bad enough to email the contributor to tell her that it was my error - because I wrote the header - and apologise if people hung shit on her. As it so happened since it was all electronic I was able to at least fix it and have a corrected version out within an hour, but still, that just made the whole effort seem sullied, tainted, and wronged.

Jesus wept indeed ... though I hardly think 'Our man in Amsterdam' on the Judeo-Christian front would give a tinkers about a typo.


  1. I publish stuff every day (I'm at work) and little errors like that do creep in. My last one was a publication that I got out early. I was very proud, and then discovered that there was a factual error that would've been corrected if I hadn't got it out early. I felt like a chump.

    That doesn't mean I won't jeer at poorly written signs though. Why take *all* the fun out of life? :p

  2. That's a good point! Life is a sludgy mudgy muck fest at the best of times. A poorly written sign is like finding a twinkie that only has a small amount of mud on it.


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