(With apologies to the 1948 film classic, The Treasure of Sierra Madre)
I once interviewed for a job as Publications Director at a big home mortgage lender. The young, stylish female VP, more than an hour late, started the interview by berating her assistant in front of me. She continued to be condescending and unpleasant throughout the interview. When she got to the final question, I found myself in an editor’s dream scenario. More on that later.
Editors are behind-the-scenes, unsung heroes who make others look good. They can be likened to the costumers and makeup artists who know the secrets of the stars they beautify. Who has hair extensions, who wears Spanx, who needs extra-heavy foundation. When editors get together, they invariably exchange stories of hilarious mistakes they’ve seen in print – or corrected before they got there. Like the dozens of times someone has left the “l” out of public. I’ve seen that one so many times I’m starting to suspect people of doing it on purpose.
Often, the people who made these errors had no use for editors. Oh, the false sense of security when a spell checker is all that stands between you and public embarrassment! And don’t even get me started on Autocorrect.
Homophones (word pairs that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and different meanings) are tricky enough. But sometimes the word is spelled correctly although its usage is just plain wrong. I once knew a senior VP who was fond of such expressions as:
recede from the Union (Slide off into the Gulf of Mexico?)
we can’t waist time (Unless we spend it in the gym …)
carp diem (Sounded a little fishy, but I think he was just being koi. OK, I’ll stop.)
These are the kinds of mistakes a good editor could have prevented. It’s possible to be great at sales or managing or engineering – even writing – and still need the help of an editor. The price of salvation is just a little humility.
So what about the nasty woman who interviewed me? When she asked, “What makes you think you have anything to offer us?” I said, “I could protect you from mistakes like this,” and handed her a highlighted printout from their website in which they discussed mortgage rates for condoms. That’s right – instead of condos.
She shrieked, “Where did you get this?” I told her it was on her own company website. She insisted it was not, while frantically tapping on her laptop, but the site came up and she saw that it was true. Without a word, she bolted from the room, presumably to lop off the head of the person who was responsible.
I let myself out. Who’d want to work for her anyway?
©2012 Text CPR, LLC. All rights Reserved.