Obsessive-Correcting Disorder

I stand in the local Hallmark store staring at the handmade sign above the card rack.  The words are written in black Sharpie pen – the same kind of pen I just happen to have in my purse.  The misspelling is egregious.  The clerks are busy with other customers.  I slip out the pen, glance around furtively, and then add the missing letter onto the sign.  Aaah!  A wave of relaxation passes over me.  Now, I can continue my shopping, knowing that I have benefitted the Hallmark company and all of the customers that will pass this display after me.  The world has been made right. 

You know you’re a grammar or punctuation stickler when you start pointing out printed errors to the staff of restaurants, stores, or other businesses.  When a poorly punctuated brochure or a conspicuous misspelling on a menu cry out to you for justice.  When you arrive at your friends’ home, view the welcome sign by her front door, and wonder if you should inform her that the “Smith’s” (possessive) do not live here, but the “Smiths” (plural) do.

But you know you’ve joined the ranks of the obsessive-compulsive when you begin correcting signs yourself!  My best friend was first to cross the line of idiosyncrasy when she revised a menu item written in chalk at a restaurant before being escorted to a table.  I was more secretive in that moment when I finally realized that I had been given a gift that must be used for the greater good, to right the wrongs of incorrect language usage.  And really, at some point, it is easier to do it yourself than to try to explain to the manager or another employee why the word should be “its” instead of “it’s” or how to spell “specialty.”

Needless to say, this can be embarrassing to any companions who are with you at the time.  Alright, alright . . . bowing to pressure, I will admit that it is not potentially embarrassing; it is downright shudder-inducing to your family and friends!  They may take several large steps away from you, deny that you are in their party, and ignore your repeated attempts to get their attention, even if those efforts include shouting, waving your arms like a chicken, or sobbing uncontrollably.

Still, you are right.  Stick to your guns.  It is appalling how many spelling and grammatical mistakes are tolerated in our otherwise high-achieving society!  The world needs your knowledge and candor to point out where it can improve!  To maintain the highest standards of communication for the dignity of all people!  To preserve the written word and carry it forward untarnished to the next generation!  You are on level with superheroes, world leaders, and religious icons in preserving the values for which we live!

Does society frown on the world-class swimmer who jumps in the pool to save a drowning child?  Do people look down upon the medically-trained citizen who performs the Heimlich maneuver on a choking diner?  Do others condemn the What Not to Wear hosts when they call attention to crimes against fashion?  Of course not!  Neither should they fail to recognize the benefit you bestow on mankind with your keen eye and willingness to act for the sake of rescuing the errant sentence or phrase!

Use the talent given to you.  But remember, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And if you happen to notice any errors in this blog post, please inform me.  (But do so gently.  I may not take it very well.)

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3 thoughts on “Obsessive-Correcting Disorder

  1. Although my "red pen" claim to fame is not as illustrious as yours; I have become the go to person for "proofing" various things to the best of my knowledge at the church office. I'm even called upon to spell words or at least get them started in the right direction, but I will never be able to fill yours or Paula's shoes. To this day, I still find myself wishing she were here to help me convey "text" in the most appropriate manner. Of course, we still remember the many corrections you made on our bulletins, newsletters and outgoing correspondence not to mention the sign/menu at Ninfa's Restaurant! Anyway, more power to you and those of your similar calling/expertise.

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