I once wrote a farce called ``Typo','' about a newspaper changing ownership and managment. The stress level on the staff was extreme, so the typographical errors multiplied. The more tension, the more typo's. The inverted pyramid was atwirl. Natural farce stuff.
Of course, typo's are much feared by newspapers, but they are also a good out. Sometimes when I made a mistake writing about this or that, it was easy to say, ``Well, it was a typo','' thus blaming it on someone else, or fate, since people seem to accept that typo's just kind of happen.
In the old days, when they had real typesetters, those typesetters often hated the reporters, who blamed their mistakes, or typo's, on the typesetters. The typesetters had many ways of getting even, such as peppering the offending writers' stories with even more typo's.
Still, typo's can really just kind of happen, whether it's a writer or a typesetter or a rebelious word processor. You have to be careful of certain words and certain phrases. Hockey puck is a bad phrase, for instance. You want to be careful with ship, those kinds of things.
I guess typo's are the journalist, editor and writer's nightmare, just as the actor dreams – or `nightmares' – of having to go out and play Hamlet without having run the lines and having no idea who is playing Ophelia or what city he's in. In addition, the actor's in his pajamas and is having a bad hair night.
More than typo's, the journalist's nightmare is writing something really stupid, say late at night under deadline, then you go home, exhausted, go to bed and at 3 a.m. sit bolt upright and yell at your spouse, ``Oh, my God, I wrote that Governor Nosestrap is dumber than a wombat!'' ``Well, isn't he? You say it all the time.'' ``Sure, but . . .''
And there's nothing to do for it.
These things do happen. I remember a sports editor had a coach habitually come in late, just minutes before deadline, with his team's results, and one night as the harried sports editor edited this guy's story copy, she added the line, ``And Coach Pickle is a dumb (censored, censored, censored).''
As she told the story, she awoke at 2:17 a.m. that night-morning and screamed, ``My God, I let that get through,'' and walked all night until the paper came out, put coins in the newspaper box, and with trembling hands turned to the sports page where she read . . .
So, that's a journalist's nightmare, as well as a sometime reality.
As for my worst typo ever, it was covering a meeting about a district tax rate hike. I think I was supposed to report that there would be an increase of, say, $1.30. But that damnable typo' (or my minor slip-up) in the next morning's paper read $1,300.00, causing some considerable hysteria.
Well, it was really a lot to do over a little tipo', I thought.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...