As I was watching an old episode of ‘Lost’ last night, one of the main characters was asked if he knew what his tattoos meant. They were Chinese characters, and they apparently mean ‘He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us’. In the context of the program, this proves, at the time, to be ironic.

This got me to thinking, however, just how great a tool tattoo-making could be to the practical joke industry. Imagine yourself going in to have something profound inked onto your chest, something like ‘I love my wife/girlfriend/mistress’, in Chinese characters. Three years later, on a trip to China, you decide to go swimming, only to see people pointing at you and snickering. After surveying the crowd, you discover, to your horror, your tattoo actually means ‘My wang no longer works’.

I’d be a little upset.

Who’s to say this isn’t actually happening? I cannot read these characters correctly. I’ll be damned if I put my trust into some dude to write what I want on my body. I’d probably get stuck with something like ‘Caution: Wide Load’ or ‘Do Not Poke: Prone To Farting!’. Given the fact that these kinds of things do happen to me to begin with, a tattoo as such is probably not a good idea.

Of course, in life, flubs like this can be called ‘typos’, provided they are not done on purpose. One famous typo cost Boeing Corporation $70 million due to a misplaced comma. Such errors are sometimes very serious, but can also be hilarious.

Here’s a typo: Imagine a person who is proficient in karate, jujitsu, and other forms of ‘marital’ arts. People will be flocking to this person for all kinds of marriage advice, perhaps including how to chop their partner. Imagine, also, considering buying a product from a company that offers ‘some-day shipping’. You might want to buy it somewhere else.

‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ would be a little different if you omitted the space between ‘pen’ and ‘is’. Then there’s the guy who used his ‘wench’ to pull his truck out of the ditch. I’m sure she was not impressed. How about the poor guy who got caught using ‘pubic’ money…I hope he washed his hands afterwards!

In September 2006, a trader at Mizuho Securities in Japan accidentally sold 610,000 shares in J-Com Co. (a job recruiting company) for 1 yen apiece, instead of 1 share at 610,000 yen. Unable to cancel the order Mizuho Securities then lost roughly $340 million as a result. I’m thinking this trader has since been traded himself.

Punctuation can also be particularly hazardous. ‘What’s that in the road ahead?’ is not the same as ‘What’s that in the road? A head?’… but the latter is much more sinister. Saying ‘Slow: Children Crossing’ can be much more exciting if you say ‘Slow Children Crossing’….although, come to think of it, it’s kind of true nowadays.

You can also inadvertently say things that aren’t what they sound like. Here’s an example. ‘I went to the grocery store, and now I got a pea!’. I saw a movie theatre sign on the internet that advertised two movies that were showing that night. It is perhaps unfortunate that the sign said, ‘Harry Potter/ Knocked Up’. I hope it was an error, or else Harry really is magic!

I am dyslexic, so typos for me are a way of life, although I don’t always see them as such. I perform ‘verbal typos’ all the time, like asking for ‘pill dickle’ chips. I get a lot of strange looks when I’ve said something like that, which prompts me to re-examine just what I said, often to my embarrassment.


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