Sunday, July 8, 2018

Pirates & Parents: When #Spellcheck Helps Out by Andrea Downing

It was when ‘black wooly sock’ appeared as ‘black wooly dick’ that I decided to write this particular blog.  In this digital age of writing/texting rather than talking on the phone, mistakes are rampant.  A friend with whom I correspond informed me her husband was perplexed by her text, “I’m with a bunch of pirates.” As she said, he wasn’t using his ‘context reasoning,’ to discover she was with other parents, wise advice for us all.  Her son is visiting New Zealand and wrote, “defiantly the best time I’ve had.” One can only wonder whom he was defying in being so happy.
Then there are the suggested responses one encounters on iPad and other devices, depending on your browser.  When the same friend finished an email that she was off to bed, iPad suggested I respond, ‘Safe travels!’  A text from the contractor who services my irrigation system must have been a mix of spellcheck/autocorrect and his translation app.  It read, “good days mrs. Andy w. the irrigation this all the 5 areas working, and not there is no liqueo or cut, the head of the photo, not this working off, the I will when end . . . .” You get the picture.
Then, of course, there’s tone, how you meant something and it comes out as if you’re snarling.  We now know that all caps is SHOUTING, but how many times have you written something for it only to be misconstrued because of the interpreter’s presumed tone of your text?
 Now I’m thinking perhaps spellcheck is excellent practice for editing.  You know, you read that ms. a dozen times and still don’t see that “dong” instead of “doing” or “havens” instead of “heavens.”  
If only spellcheck had some reasoning built into it. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be getting used to these mistakes. When a text I sent to my daughter came out, “Pop fizzing down to cheesecake,” she texted back, “wait . . .is that some sort of code for “help”?

I’d love to hear about any miswritten or misconstrued texts you’ve dealt with. In the meantime, there are hopefully no text mistakes in City Boy, Country Heart, available at   
Rodeo star and rancher Chay Ridgway has traded Wyoming for New York in order to be with his girlfriend, K.C. Daniels, while she completes an M.A.  With Chay facing a tough ride in the big city, can K.C. keep a tight rein on this cowboy, or will the wide open spaces of Wyoming call his country heart home?


Chay lay spread out on the bed, fully clothed, legs crossed, boots still on, arms locked behind his head. His coat, scarf, and hat were dropped on the floor.
K.C. clicked the door shut behind her and stood staring at him, not knowing where to start. “You heard?”
“I heard.” He pulled his knees in, hugging them and then, as if just now realizing his boots were still on, he swung his legs off the bed. “Shall we report her to the police for having marijuana on the premises?” He turned to look at K.C., his smirk belying the jest behind his words.
“You’re not serious.”
“No,” he said, getting to his feet and going to her. “But it’s a nice idea. Pay-back.” He pulled K.C. into his arms and rested his chin on her head. “She really is a bitch. How in heaven’s name did you ever get friendly with her?”
“Oh, you know…we were in the same classes in college as undergrads, had a few laughs, went out to parties together, and just became friends. You know how it is.”
He pulled away, his hands still gripping her arms. “No, K.C., I don’t know how it is. I haven’t been to college, haven’t found something in common with people who smoke weed, who lie about others, make false accusations like that.”
K.C. snapped away, throwing her coat on the bed. “Well, excuse me. I didn’t know I was sleeping with someone so perfect, almost holy.”
“You want to have an argument over this? I had to listen to that crap; I’ve put up with her nasty lies and insinuations and garbage while you’re not here during the day. And now you want to take her side?”
“Geesh, Chay! I am not taking her side in anything! I was simply explaining how I became friends with someone you don’t like.”
“Maybe you are a really bad judge of character. Maybe that’s why you went out with Jamie.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” She thought back to the terrible evening with Jamie at his ranch, how he had got her to the empty house under pretense of giving her dinner and tried to rape her by drugging her. If she hadn’t run out, and flagged down Chay, who happened to be heading back to the Lazy S from his own ranch, the ending could have been a whole lot different—could have been deadly. She shivered at the thought. “I went out with Jamie because he seemed nice. I’d been warned about you. We’ve gone through all this. Both Breezy and Dakota told me you were a ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ type and to stay away from you.”
Chay plunked down on the foot of the bed and sighed. “And I was. Until I met you.”
She knew him well enough now to see the wheels of his mind working, how uncomplicated his life used to be, how being single was so much easier than taking into consideration the feelings and needs of another person, how being selfish just made everything so simple with no one else to consider.
K.C. dropped down beside him and took his hand in hers, playing with it, spreading out his fingers before entwining with them. “Not so calloused as they used to be.”
“No.” He grimaced. “You’re going to make a softie of me if I stay here.”
For a second she considered the words, ‘if I stay here’ but let it go. The first real smile of the day filled K.C.’s face and lit up her eyes as she pulled her hand free and caressed his crotch. “Not quite a softie!”
And then his phone rang.


Leah St. James said...

Too funny, Andi. :-) I don't have any good ones to add. I must admit I don't lose my grammar nerd tendencies when texting. I insist on spelling out phrases (like "are you" for "RU") and using proper punctuation! My kids make fun of me all the time. Maybe that's why it's not my favorite form of communication. One-fingered typing is labor intensive! LOL! One reporter I know can text to capture quotes without even looking at her phone! She uses both thumbs. (Amazing skills these young kids have developed!) Thanks for the morning chuckle.

Love the excerpt for CITY BOY, COUNTRY HEART and grabbed a copy of the book for my Kindle! Sounds fabulous.

Jannine Gallant said...

I try to proofread texts and emails before sending for the very reasons you mention. I'm not sure why my phone thinks it knows better than I do what word I wanted to use... Funny post!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for smiles and the bantering excerpt this a.m. I loved your e-mail errors, especially the one to your daughter and her clever ... 'code?' comment. She's as quippy as you are (and the text monster let me write 'quippy' so I'm a happy girl). You didn't talk about the fights we have with the text overlords. I am Roly to my friends here...and depending on the medium I am usually 'changed' to Ropy. For some reason 'they' name me holy moly; holy roly. In general, the overlord wishes me to be named moly, which isn't a name. So yes...we have battles, some royal. e.e.cummings would not be welcome in in this strange land.

Alison Henderson said...

I'm laughing out loud at "Pop fizzing down to cheesecake." I don't text very often, and I'm pretty careful about re-reading my texts, but I agree with you about spellcheck and editing. Why doesn't it understand what a really meant and insert the correct word? What good is ASI (artificial semi-intelligence)? LOL

Barbara Edwards said...

totally funny. I keep checking for corrections and do miss them. But I get an equal amount so it is equal.

Andrea Downing said...

Leah, we of a certain age do have the tendency to us one finger. I tried thumbs once and it was definitely quicker but somehow it didn't catch on with me--I believe humans will evolve with more agile thumbs at some stage but for now, it's the younger generation who are willing as well as able. Thanks for the kind words re book!

Andrea Downing said...

Jannine the phone does believe it knows better. the number of times I've had to repeatedly correct it on the same word, just because it doesn't recognize the name or word! So frustrating!

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, my daughter IS pretty quippy--and she somehow manages to understand my texts which I never bother to correct when they're to her. To other people, yes, I spend the time. As for name correction, wow, it's a tough call. I'm dealing here in NYC with so many different ethnicities, so many people with 'unrecognizable' names, it's a constant battle with Spellcheck.

Andrea Downing said...

Alison, I can remember when texting first came in, in London, and I thought I'd never bother to use that--why text when you can phone? Then my nephew was visiting from NYC and he couldn't see the purpose of it either. Now we both text fairly constantly. I hope the problems with ASI will eventually sort out because, lord knows, human intelligence seems to be on the decline

Andrea Downing said...

barbara, it's like checking that ms.--you miss things, as I said. But at least it's less important. Usually.

Margo Hoornstra said...

It is true, like Jannine says, our devices seem to ‘think’ they know more than we do. Maybe so, but I don’t ‘think’ so. Although I could so identify with your post. Happens to me all the time. Isn’t technology grand?

Brenda Whiteside said...

The book sounds like a fun read. Your post has me laughing. My brother once sent a voice text to his boss and didn't check it before sending. Turns out he sent a proposition of the sexual kind.

Andrea Downing said...

Margo, I'm so glad to know I'm not alone with these troubles. What really gets me is when I correct the spellcheck correction and it continues to insist its right! Can't win.

Andrea Downing said...

Oh Brenda--I'm dying to know what he said. . . or didn't say, as the case may be!

Alicia Dean said...

Thanks for the post, enjoyed it! Great excerpt too! Ha,funny stuff. My siblings and I were just discussing how text messages and email can't convey tone. We all spent a weekend together and my eldest brother, who is my half brother, was saying how much he dislikes and doesn't understand technology. He refuses to get on Facebook or text. As a matter of fact, he leaves his cell in his truck because he only knows how to answer when it comes up on blue tooth. :) I've definitely had experience with misguided auto correct. Just can't think of any precise examples right now. :) Fun post!!

Hebby Roman said...

Andrea, great blog, as always, I might add. In my book, you're THE BLOG QUEEN, caps intended so I could shout it out. LOL You really covered the water about texting and spell checking, etc. Drives me buggy, also, and you made me laugh, which was great!

RE Mullins said...

As irritating as presumptive text can be, it is also a never ending source of amusement to me.