Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why SpellCheck is not your best friend

In light of my sister's written faux pas today, I'd like to share one I heard about secondhand a couple of years ago:

My friend Moira was working on a large hotel/retail complex with a woman who was a licensed architect and the job captain. Moira said this woman was a terrible speller but a good architect nonetheless, and she was notorious for having really picky punchlists. A punchlist, you'll recall, is a list of items (split up by rooms) that need fixing before the owner moves in.

Well, this woman architect did a long, long punchlist on a couple of the hotel floors, and she noticed that throughout the areas she checked, many countertops and plumbing fixtures needed to have sealant applied around them. Except, unlike a proper architect, she didn't call it sealant. She called it "caulk", like she was a plumber.

And she's a bad speller.

So, the day after the punchlist, this architect lady sends out a long, Excel spreadsheet punchlist to the entire design team and construction team--Moira, her boss, the owner, the contractor, everyone--with line after line looking like this:

Toilet Room A355A: Needs more cock.
Housekeeping Room A356: Needs more cock at mop sink.
Guest Room A357: Needs more cock at wetbar countertop.

The contractor called Moira; was this, um, correct? Moira had to confirm, yes, the wetbar in A357 needs sealant applied to the backsplash, etc. etc. etc. For the rest of the project, the contractor would occasionally ask this woman, "Does it need more cock?" and she would reply obliviously, "No, it was installed correctly," or "Yeah, it does need more caulk around it."

Now, surely some of us, perhaps most of us, could use a little more, um, caulk in our lives. But is a punchlist the forum to air such needs?

And that, my people, is why you should never rely on SpellCheck. And always call it "sealant."


ms. kitty said...

Great story, Pixie! I'm so glad I had a tough spelling teacher in elementary school.

Charlotte said...

*snort* Hilarious. Simply hilarious. :)

St. Blogwen said...

An architecture prof of mine used to say, "All the world's problems can be solved by caulk!"

Maybe now I know what he really meant?


(Oh, yeah, I left you something on my blog, at http://stblogwen.blogspot.com/2008/03/youre-it.html)

Miss Kitty said...


Oh, how I that flat Midwestern accent, and the flat vowel pronunciation of "caulk." Yes, don't we all need some more? :-P But...in the toilet room? The housekeeping closet? The guest room? My, my.

Nancy said...


faded said...

This sort of thing happened long before spell check.

I saw a set of hand drafted construction documents that had the following descriptive note in various places to describe louvered openings. It said "Wood lovers here."

That ocurred in at least 50 places on the CD's.