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Dessert in the Desert

One of the first freelancing gigs I ever had was for an architectural firm that was submitting a proposal for a new building at a military installation. In case you didn’t know, the federal government has strict guidelines for proposals and bids such as page size, layout, organization, formatting, maximum number of pages, even how many lines per page!

Obviously “my” architects and I worked like dogs on this major project. At last, after weeks of writing, rewriting, and tweaking, I proudly presented the hardcopy version for final approval by the managing partner. It was a thing of beauty!


desertdessertThe managing partner found a glaring error. At several points there was reference to Desert Storm and I had spelled it Dessert Storm. Ye gods!!! I was utterly mortified. My spellchecker hadn’t caught it, of course, and neither I nor any of “my” architects had caught it either. Thank heaven the managing partner did. Naturally I immediately fixed the mistake and reprinted the whole thing.

The corrected proposal went out ahead of deadline and the firm won the bid. I got paid handsomely. But the damage had been done. The managing partner was not a happy camper and I never got another gig with that firm.

By the way, desert means either lots of sand or abandoning someone or something; dessert means the sweet treat you eat at the end of a meal. This is an example of a homophone: words that sound the same but are spelled differently and mean different things. I guess there could be a “dessert storm” but it would probably resemble the classic food fight in Animal House!

The moral to this story? No matter how marvelous a piece is, one “little” mistake can – and will – ruin everything. Yes, no one is infallible; we’re all human and we all make mistakes, but the idea is to keep them to an absolute minimum. For more on this subject, see Your Spellchecker is Not Your BFF!.



Kitty Price

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