No. 66

It has been said that if we wish to live a happy, well adjusted life, we should take what we do seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously. This is especially true when it comes to making mistakes. One day I heard the late Earl Nightingale say, “If you will watch what the crowd is doing and do exactly the opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live.” The truth is, we all make mistakes and while I'm sure they make many mistakes that I don't even see, every once in a while our local newspaper makes a real "doozie" and true to form, in a few days a reader writes a "Letter to the Editor" to take them to task.
To my way of thinking, it's very important to be conscientious and do our best work, but in real life, if we were doing anything at all, we are bound to make some mistakes. To place what I'm saying in perspective, I would like to share something I ran across, titled "Addled Ads", from the collection of The National Composition Association. Back in the old days, before the computer came along, these are the folks who used to set type for the major newspapers across the country. The article starts off this way: "For sale, a used sewing machine. Call Mr. Tom Kelly at 555-3455 after seven o'clock and ask for Mrs. Perkins, who lives with him cheap." The next day in the paper there was a correction for this ad: "Correction: an error appeared in Mr. Tom Kelly's advertisement yesterday. It should have read: For sale, a used sewing machine cheap. Call Mr. Tom Kelly at 555-3455 and ask for Mrs. Perkins who lives with him after seven o'clock." The next day there was another correction: "Mr. Tom Kelly has reported several annoying telephone calls as a result of a classified advertisement that appeared in this newspaper yesterday. The ad stands corrected: "For sale, a used sewing machine cheap. Call Mr. Tom Kelly after seven o'clock at 555-3455, and ask for Mrs. Perkins who loves with him." The next day the paper carried the following notice: "I, Tom Kelly, no longer have a used sewing machine for sale. I took an axe and smashed it. I also no longer have a housekeeper. Mrs. Perkins resigned yesterday."
There are several reasons why I wanted to share this with you. First, it's a wonderful example of "Murphy's Law" -- anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. To me, and maybe to you, it was very humorous, but at the time I can assure you it was not funny to Mr. Tom Kelly. We have to be very careful when we start having fun at someone else's expense. As the old saying goes, "what goes around comes around." The primary reason, however, that I wanted to share this with you is because of my own personal experience in the printing business.
About 30 years ago, I was a printing salesman for a large commercial printer in Little Rock, Arkansas. In spite of the best efforts of our company to produce "error free" work, very seldom did we produce a print job that contained a large number of pages of "type" that didn't have some mistakes. You could find them later, but very seldom could you catch them all before press time, especially when you were under a deadline. So, the next time you see a mistake in your local newspaper, if you feel you must point it out, do so in a constructive way, because a critical spirit never helps anyone. What we all need to remember is that "to err is human, but to forgive is divine." If we overlook the mistakes of others, maybe they will overlook ours. To be honest, I would never make it were it not for God’s grace. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)