What follows here is a mildly amusing not really amusing, but ironic story about messing up. Specifically about me messing up. Which I do regularly, but this time people found out about it.

I’m a grammar/usage/AP Style nerd. I’m hopelessly aggravated by misplaced apostrophes and excessive capitalization. I’ve been known to take pictures of an offending sign and have been tempted to spray paint out scare quotes, which are always inappropriate.

So a couple of days ago, I did a post on one of my favorite Web services, IFTTT, which stands for If This, Then That. Except that’s not what I typed in the headline. I typed, If Then, This That.  Omigosh, really?

You know, it’s always the headlines that get you. It’s so easy to miss a typo in a headline. And I did. Darn it.

I didn’t even realize it until a dear friend called me out on Twitter. He/she was very kind about it — he/she sent me a DM. This one.


See how nice he/she was? Rather than call me out publicly, I got this nice DM to alert me to my error, which is far more mercy than I deserve. Actually, I laughed. Hard. At myself. Because as easy as it is to point out others’ errors, I’m certainly not above a dumb typo myself.

I responded publicly, not realizing at first that he/she had sent it privately. I got the popup message on my phone and, while reading the notification at a stoplight, didn’t realize it was private. Which is cool, as I don’t try to hide my screwups. Much.

If I had a larger audience, someone would surely have called me out publicly — and they would have been well within their rights. And I’d still have laughed. I just don’t take myself that seriously, I suppose.

I was reminded of five principles.

  1. No one is immune to a faux pas. I don’t care how careful you are, how much you know, you’re human and you are going to mess up. I promise. Even Adam Wainright occasionally hangs a curveball. If Waino can suck it up and move on, so can I. Or maybe y’all are perfect and Waino and I the only ones who mess up. But I’m going to guess not.
  2. Always, always, always double check the headlines. For some reason, they are the easiest typos to miss. Our eyes tend to skip over them, so it’s important to be extra careful about them. Check them twice. Or thrice.
  3. Don’t proofread when the Cardinals have the bases loaded. Or it’s the season finale of Mad Men. Or the finals of that basketball championship everyone was so excited about. You get the idea. Distracted proofreading is a fork-in-the-toaster moment.
  4. Laugh at yourself. Because it’s much more fun than getting all puffed up while people laugh behind your back. Just own it and laugh at it already. Unless people were hurt or property was damaged. That’s considerably worse than a simple typo, and notsomuch a laughing matter.
  5. Be grateful. I’m grateful for my friend who pointed it out, otherwise I’m quite sure that post would have gone viral and the world would have been witness to my gaffe. It’s hard to edit your own writing; once you see something so much, you stop seeing it, if you know what I mean. It’s kind of like how you don’t recognize how awful your house smells because you live there with four dogs, one of whom is incontinent, one who failed housebreaking, and two males who just like to pee on things. Not that I would know.

What’s your biggest public boo-boo? Oh, come on, get over yourself and share it.


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