A Moment in My Life – Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Have you ever noticed people’s true colors come out when the elephant is in the room? Nobody ever wants to say anything. They’re way too polite. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, even if it’s just a single misplaced article. People are funny in that way. They avoid confrontation with a ten-foot pole. Hey, that’s perfect for social distancing! True. Not for all things, though.
I must admit that I, too, avoid the elephant in the room. Not intentionally. I swear! At last, I do. I do it like the best of them. In fact, over the years, I’ve gotten quite good at it. I laugh when someone apologizes because spell check replaced their word with some far-fetched one. Only then, when they brought it to my attention, did I see the typo. Old habits of avoiding the elephant, I naturally filled in the intended word, and I got the gist of their message. That’s ideal for social media chats. Saves a lot of time, usually, not always. I know that sometimes it might create misunderstandings or other problems, but basically, it’s okay, and there is no need to make a thing out of it.
The other day, I typed “Aiya” in a text. Spell check decided it should be “Aiyanas,” which my sister googled and provided us with a fun fact for the day, ‘Aiyanas is a Native American name meaning blossoming or eternal flame.’ In this case, the elephant taught us a new word, a beautiful word that I look forward to using one day.
When it comes to the written word on a page, that’s the elephant that I refer to that brings out people’s true colors. I reread my work over and over and edit it until the walls scream “ENOUGH already!” Even then, when I proofread and become satisfied that I caught every little typo from removing or adding a comma to adding a missing word, correcting a wrong word or a misspelled word that sounds the same, or replacing with a better word—somehow, after I’ve posted my work, there it was—the typo gremlin baring its teeth laughing at me. By then, who knows how many people read my work with the imperfection on it? Usually, for whatever reason, nobody points it out. They probably do the same thing I do and mentally make the corrections as they read. I’m grateful for that, but sometimes, it might be helpful if someone alerted me so I could make the corrections.
I remember the publisher of my first novel pointed out that I used ear bugs instead of earbuds throughout my book, and that was a good catch and a welcomed one. I laughed when I read that correction because I didn’t see it. My first readers didn’t see it either. For something important, people should point out errors without concern for fear of hurting their feelings.
Although, here’s where I have to say, “Be careful what you wish for” because after Mark’s Celebration of Life, I had printed out personalized thank you cards with a typo on it. I sent out over fifty cards, and people politely accepted them and mentally filled in the correction as they read, or they were too polite to say anything. The last person I sent the card to was the one who avoided the elephant and emailed me. She said, “I may be mistaken, but last time I checked, the word prosper is written p-r-o-s-p-e-r and not proper.” That was one time where I would have preferred, not knowing. I felt awful, but what could I do? Not a darn thing! Except now, I was aware all those cards went out with a typo.
Bottom line, we have to pick our battles and exercise wisdom on knowing when to address the elephant in the room, and when not to.
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