Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spel Chek


    I love how much we depend on technology.  From On-Star in our cars to TIVO in our living rooms, our increasing dependence on technical gee-whizzery threatens irreparable damage to our self-reliance and ability to open a can of beans without the aid of a robot.
    We’ve dumbed ourselves down to become the “Reality TV Generation.”
    I even saw an automatic paper dispenser in the Men’s Room of a fine local dining establishment.  OK, it was Hooters, but that’s beside the point.  What I’m amazed at is how lazy we are that all we have to do is wave our hands under the paper towel rack and-presto-chango-out comes a sheet.  I know, I know, germs and all that, but I’m distressed that technology has rendered the manly art of wiping our hands on our pants obsolete.
    The proliferation of personal computers has likewise caused great harm to our ability of expressing ourselves much beyond stick figures and mono-syllabic grunts.
    Now, I know that I wrote this on a personal computer and that you’re reading this on a personal computer.  I also realize that personal computers have brought much joy to our lives in areas such as internet research and online gambling.
    However, it is the very utility of computers that cause people to become lazy when called upon to write something.  Gone are the days of the typewriter when a mistake on a piece of paper (paper? how quaint!) resulted in splashing the error with white-out (white-out? how quaint!) or throwing the entire sheet in the trash.
    There was no such thing as “cut and paste” or the magic of deleting an entire highlighted selection.  There was also no such thing as “Spell Check.”
    How often have you seen a document so riddled with errors that it looked like a troop of chimpanzees’ dissertation on the aesthetic virtue of hanging from a tire swing by one’s genitalia?
    After looking at “work” such as that, I try to bring up its shortcomings to its author who quite indignantly informs me that, “I spell-checked it!”
    Well, Melville, did you READ it, though?
    Yep, the words may be spelled correctly, but “context” can be a terrible thing (e.g., “Me and my sister the Catholic none, are going two steel ducks from the zoo which is over their.”).
    This over-reliance on software can certainly be maddening.  It can also have some comical side-effects, as well.
    I remember when our leading foreman was getting set to transfer to another state.  He wasn’t too terribly popular, so no tears were shed at the prospect of his departure.  That he was oblivious to our disregard for his breathing was obvious given we scheduled his “Farewell Party” for after he transferred.
    Anyway, as part of the transfer procedure, he was asked by the big boss to draft a summary of his accomplishments for the company and community over the past few years.  The boss’s idea was that he could use it when it came time to figuratively boot him out the front door in a ceremonial mutual love-fest.
    An arrogant, pompous so-and-so, the foreman commenced to set down in writing all that he had done during the time we were fortunate enough to share the air he breathed.  A girthy tome, his “I Love Me” treatise was chockfull of personal pats on the back from the time he streamlined aircraft maintenance procedures to when he invented the internet (and we always thought that was Al Gore).
    As I was the Administrative Department Head, it fell to me to screen all paperwork destined for submittal to the rarified air of upper management.
    Reading the foreman’s self-aggrandizing testimony, I remarked upon a few discrepancies.
    True to form, he merely dismissed my misgivings with a curt, “Well, I spell-checked it!”
    Refusing to accept it back for edit, even after I cautioned him that some mistakes may not be caught further up the line, he insisted I forward it.
    So, imagine our glee when, during his farewell luncheon (which we called “mandatory fun”), the head of the company read how, among other things, this outstanding worker and paragon of the human experience was, among other things...
    “An instrumental part of the community, devoting countless hours to his church as a lethargical reader.”
    It was then I understood why I got sleepy in church.