5 Dumb Typos That Resulted In Total Anarchy
Whether you're calling someone sweat, want to wank them for helping you out, or telling misogynists "Times up," typos can create very awkward situations. But while the damage typically contains itself to you having a very one-sided breakup with autocorrect, the most innocent of spelling mistakes can create such calamities that people wind up risking their jobs, their lives, or worst of all, being made fun of on the internet.
(Note: Any and all spelling errors in this article are to be regarded as intentional humor, even if they clearly aren't.)
A Dairy Had To Pay $5 Million In Overtime Because Of A Missing Comma
They say the devil is in the details. That's because there's a special of hell for pedants where they're forced to read letters written by people who don't know the difference between you're and your. It's only fair, seeing as how in this mortal realm, those very same grammar Nazis will flay the skin off your back for the slightest ambiguity in your wording. And if you think we're being too dramatic, ask the Maine dairy that had to shell out millions because it didn't believe in the Oxford comma.
In 2014, angered by their dairy's shitty overtime policy, a group of drivers discovered a way to make their bosses pay. Scouring over their contracts, they noticed a tiny but exploitable loophole. In the section regarding overtime, it clearly stated that no overtime would be granted for "marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution" -- clearly a bad deal for people whose whole job revolves around driving shit around. However, because there was no Oxford comma present in that statement, the drivers figured that "packing for shipment or distribution" could be interpreted as receiving no overtime for packing for shipment or packing for distribution, neither of which was in their job description. They sued the dairy, figuring that from a legal standpoint, they didn't have a comma to stand on.
The group of five demanded retroactive compensation for all the grammatically proven overtime they had performed. After much legal eagle nitpicking, the court ruled in their favor, forcing the dairy to pay out a whopping $5 million to their workers in back pay. If that seems a bit excessive, well, the drivers got really lucky with the judge assigned to the case, who was so into the idea that he published a massive 29-page ruling in which he explores the legal uses of the Oxford Comma, a riveting page-turner which is available for reading if you want to spend a night getting so aroused your nipples may explode.
Of course, us blue-collared internet charlatans applaud the truckers for taking action against the anti-labor exploitation of the milkman. We just wish it hadn't involved giving a legal precedent to those fastidious, fascistic and finicky, acrimonious, antagonistic and antisocial and smug, selfish and self-satisfied Oxford comma users.
A Texas University Congratulated Students On Their Mastery Of "Pubic" Affairs
College is a time of freedom, of experimentation, of throwing caution to the wind and going a little wild. But often this can lead to mistakes, careless moments of indiscretion that can have disastrous and long-term repercussions. Then you have no choice but to abort it fast before it ruins everything. We're talking, of course, about administrative typos.
When the University of Texas at Austin was told it had a pubic relations emergency, for once they weren't going to have to fire another tenured professor. For their class of 2012, one of its departments had accidentally distributed a commencement program congratulating the students on graduating from the "Lyndon B. Johnson School of Pubic Affairs" -- weirdly appropriate, given how much the namesake president liked talking about his dick.
Worse, before the mistake was spotted, the pamphlets had already been pubically distributed to the parents and friends attending the graduation. Just imagine an auditorium full of dads, half of them going red in the face and the other half climbing over attendees to high-five their sons, and you get the basic gist of the situation.
Like with all pubic affairs, this landed the administration in a sticky situation. New programs were printed and distributed, but the damage had already been done. The dean of the LBJ School of Crotch Concerns, not a pubic man himself, quickly apologized and said it was "beyond embarrassing" -- as all pubic mistakes are. He also offered the school's sincerest apologies for the spelling mistake on Twitter, in a tweet that misspelled the word egregious as "eggregious." (The tweet has since been removed). Still, it's still better to get egg on your face than the messy aftermath of pubic affairs.
The Chilean Mint Misspelled Its Own Country's Name On A Coin
As a national mint, you have one job and one job only: Don't screw up the money. Every note and every coin has to be made to exact specifications and remain unblemished until it gets circulated. That's why mint condition means "flawless," and not "pretty decent, all things considered." So you better believe that when a mint doesn't even know how to do uppercase lettering right, someone's going home with their personal effects in a cardboard box.
In 2008, Chile launched a new 50-peso (10 cents) coin with an unfortunate little design flaw. As it turns out, a weight balance issue made it so that the coin slightly favors heads, meaning it couldn't be used by referees during soccer matches. Oh wait, that wasn't it, they simply misspelled the name of their own country. Instead of "REPUBLICA DE CHILE" the coin reads "REPUBLICA DE CHIIE," a clear case if someone not holding down the Shift key when their job depended on it. Worse, because of the coin's small size, it took almost a full year before anyone picked up on the gaffe, meaning each one had passed through far too many toddlers to be recalled.
Unfortunately for the Chiiean mint, this was the 50-peso coin that broke the camel's back. Not long before this gaffe, they managed to sell off two priceless medals to collectors instead of putting them into museums where they belonged, earning the reputation of being the world's second-worst mint, after spear. So after the coin fiasco, the mint's general manager, Gregorio Iniguez, and several of his subordinates were fired by the government. But while the government was not amused, the people were delighted. Unable to retrieve all the faulty coins, the government allowed them to remain in circulation. This caused many Chileans to start hoarding the freshly limited edition coins in the hopes that one day a wealthy numismatic would come and trade each one for a slightly larger coin.
A Bank Almost Lost Millions Because Someone Fell Asleep On Their Keyboard
"I fell asleep on the job" is how a lot of stories start when you ask someone why they're missing the right half of their body. Industrial accident reports are filled to the brim with people nodding off for a second and paying the price. But when one banker in a cushy office decided to get a quick 30 winks behind his comfortable desk, he could've never conceived the incredible damage he was about to inflict.
In 2013, a German bank had a bit of panic when they discovered that one of their employees had been a bit too generous with a transfer, ready to send exactly 222,222,222.22 euros to an aging pensioner. Realizing that not even the German welfare state is that good, the top brass soon discovered that the clerk in charge of the transfer "fell asleep for an instant" with his finger pressed down on the 2 key. Odd way to get comfortable, but that's number crunchers for you.
Fortunately for everyone except the pensioner, the mistake was caught in time and they were able to correct it before anyone noticed. However, in its anger, the bank decided to make an example of the lazy and incompetent clerk by firing his supervisor. This, and not the aborted transfer, would turn out to be the bank's biggest mistake. The former supervisor sued the bank for wrongful termination, airing the bank's dirty laundry in the process. A judge agreed with the supervisor after she told the court that the bank was so understaffed that she had no more than two seconds to check each document, and not the 222,222,222.22 seconds which had been entered in her report.
The Most Famous Painting In The White House Misspells "United States"
On August 24, 1814, the White House was burning to the ground. Walking through the cinders in the opposite direction of those fleeing the fire, First Lady Dolley Madison was going back to save a single painting, one that stood as a shining symbol of truth, justice, and the American way. But if that was really the case, why did she save a painting that couldn't even get the name of her country right?
Many of us had a good chuckle when Trump's "State of the Union" tickets instead said "Uniom" -- which is also what Trump mumbles during his wedding vows to keep the back door open. However, what few people realized is that this mistake meant that he finally had something in common with a great president. In the East Room of the White House hangs the oldest and most famous painting of George Washington, the Lansdowne portrait. Legend has it that during the War of 1812 (all the good name-givers had died during the Whiskey Rebellion), when British forces had set fire to the not-yet-actually-White House, First Lady Madison only fled after she recovered this one iconic painting.
Slightly diffusing her patriotism, however, is the fact that this particular painting carries with it a traitorous error. On the spine of a book near Washington's feet, instead of the title "The Constitution And Laws Of The United States," it says "United Sates" -- which sounds like a pickup line Uncle Sam would practice in front of the mirror. But how on Earth do you paint a typo, and such an easy one at that? The answer is: intentionally.
What Mrs. Madison didn't know at the time was that she had risked her life (and naturally, that of her slave) to save a fake. The original Lansdowne portrait, painted by Gilbert Stuart, was never in any danger, and is currently hanging safely in the National Portrait Gallery. What the First Lady had saved from both the fire and dirty British hands was a mere copy -- the framed college poster of presidential portraits. But this was no forgery. Stuart himself had been commissioned to make several copies of the famous portrait throughout his career, and in order to distinguish the original from the copies, he intentionally removed the "t" in "United States," making it the first time in the history of art that a letter of the alphabet became a collectors' item.
In a way, all of Cedric Voets' works are about typos and losing respectability. For more of his pubic relations, please follow him on Twitter.
You know what might help cut down on typos? A nice ergonomic keyboard. Why doesn't everyone have one?
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