Thank you for a particularly entertaining batch of contest entries. Your tales of mistakes made on the job made for good reading, and I hope to share (with each writer’s permission) a few more of them in the coming days. In the meantime, though, here’s the winning entry, which the writer says is “all true” and which I chose largely because it delivered a much-needed laugh. Congratulations, Sharmyn McGraw, and thank you for the chuckle!
–Kate Gace Walton, Work Stew Editor
A Dilly of a Typo
By Sharmyn McGraw
It was time for me to write and publish our bi-monthly newsletter for our Pituitary Brain Tumor Support Group. Nine hundred fliers were printed and snail-mailed to our patients. Plus, a copy of the newsletter was posted on all of our social media sites and patient advocates’ websites. The biggest news in the flier was the invitation to our patients to join us for a fancy awards dinner for one of the leading neurosurgeons in his field: Daniel F. Kelly. Dr. Kelly was being honored with the “Gentle Giant” award at a dinner where his family, colleagues, and patients would join him.
Just moments after the newsletter was posted on the internet, and all nine hundred fliers were mailed, I got an email from a patient who had just read the flier posted on Facebook: “Please tell Dr. Kelly congrats. I wasn’t aware they gave out such an award, so bravo, Dr. Kelly.” I thought, Hmm? Wonder what he meant by that. But it wasn’t until I got a voicemail from one of Dr. Kelly’s colleagues that I started to panic. “Sharmyn, I just wanted to make sure you caught the typo before your fliers go out in the mail.” Again, I was not sure what she was referring to but that’s when I noticed in the flier that I had written, Please Join Us To Honor Dr. Daniel Kelly with the “Genital Giant” award…I almost threw up. There was no way I could break into nine hundred people’s mail boxes to retrieve them…but I had to get it off the internet ASAP, and hope no one actually reads the newsletter. Well, the good news is, people do read the newsletter. The bad news is, the flier soon spread like wildfire.
I knew I needed protection when I broke the news of my mistake, so I emailed Dr. Kelly and I included a few of the other docs he works closely with because I knew they would think the typo was hilarious. “Dear Dr. Kelly, I mailed out the fliers to all of our patients and invited them to the awards dinner. However, instead of you getting the Gentle Giant award, I announced you were getting the Genital Giant award…so, you’re welcome.” Howard, one of the other docs, asked, “Where would one purchase such a plaque? I’d sure like to see the trophy…” There started the endless commentary from the peanut gallery. Everyone was laughing, even Dr. Kelly. But I couldn’t laugh quite yet; I still felt sick to my stomach.
Dr. Kelly said, “Oh, now that makes sense. A patient sent me an email and said, “I hope you get a standing ovation but I didn’t know what she meant so I wrote back, Thank You.”
I’m still not sure the bigwigs at the hospital found it funny, but the night of the gala, I proudly stood at the podium before the crowd and talked about this great man, who I have worked side-by-side with for the past 15 years helping patients with pituitary brain tumors. I let the crowd know, he may only be receiving the Gentle Giant award this evening but there was always next year for the Genital Giant award…the crowd laughed and applauded and as I presented Dr. Kelly with his award, I could finally laugh with him as he graciously accepted his honor.