One Sunday, my husband and I attended church service as we always did in Lafayette, IN. Paging through the bulletin, I noticed a typo. It bothered me – probably because I’m an English major and a writer and an all-around structure-oriented person.
Throughout the service, I considered whether to bring up this typo to the pastor. It was a church bulletin – lots of people would be paging through it. Yet, it was a church bulletin. Did a small typo in a community church print-out matter?
I ultimately decided to point out the error to the pastor after the service. He is a good family friend of ours – practically family to us, in fact. I showed him the mistake, and he wrapped his arms around me.
“Kate,” he said, “I love you like a daughter … but get a life.”
The words took me aback. Yep, they stung a little. Was he calling me trivial? I knew he was. Was he right? Was I so detail-oriented that I really should “get a life?”
The other day I was having a conversation about punctuation and grammar with my mother-in-law in our living room. She was visiting for a week to help take care of our young son while I (now six months pregnant!) get the finishing touches on the small business history I have fervently been trying to finish.
She said small issues like typos and mis-spellings distract her. One time, she said, she received a flyer in the mail from a political candidate. The flyer was full of grammatical errors. That was all it took for her to toss the flyer in the trash; it was clear to her that this candidate didn’t care about detail – which, to her, reflected on his overall character. If he didn’t care enough to polish up a political statement before sending it out the public, why would she trust him to care about bigger matters?
Thank you! I wanted to shout from a mountain top. Someone else who actually cares about these things!
Maybe I’m nit-picky, but I notice slip-ups everywhere: an “it’s” that’s supposed to be “its” on a billboard next to the freeway, a word missing in a blog post by a prominent media figure, a mis-spelled word in an advertising campaign, and yes, typos in church bulletins.
I get that we all make mistakes, that not every piece of writing we produce will be sparkling and perfect. But at the rate I see these little errors, sometimes I wonder if people care anymore.
What do you think? Do grammar and spelling and correct usage of language still matter in our day-to-day endeavors, or do those of us who care need to get a life, because usually whatever is mis-printed can still be understood in context?
Chime in. I’m listening.