When Technology Fails

When Chrisie and I planned (okay, when Chrisie and her mom planned) our wedding, we placed a high priority on saving money wherever possible. One of the easiest places to save money was the invitations. I knew my way around a computer and had done quite a bit of design work for others and had a good relationship with a local print shop. We wanted fairly simple invitations, so it seemed like a slam dunk. Unfortunately, we forgot I was a geek before geeks were cool and was so bad at sports that I shouldn’t have even used a sports analogy.

I first visited the print shop to choose the invitation stock. I walked through the door and was warmly greeted by one of the owners.

“I haven’t seen you for a bit,” she said, “Do you need some more business cards?”

“No, today it’s invitations.”

“Oh, what kind?”


“For you?”

“For me. Show me what you’ve got.”

I flipped through the offerings and selected a simple, yet elegant, base with an embossed panel.

“I suppose you;re going to do the typesetting yourself?” Yes, this was long enough ago that she referred to it as “typesetting.”

“That’s the plan. Assuming my fiancé and future mother-in-law like the base.”

“They will, especially when you tell them what we’ll charge. Let me just get you a sample of the base. I’ll give you two others that don;t looks as good so they’ll pick the one you want.

“You know me so well.”

I left with the samples, happy that I got to be a hero for contributing and saving money in one fell swoop. Chrisie’s mom was director of a nearby preschool (where Chrisie worked as well), so I took the samples on over to show them.

I spread the three bases out on Chrisie’s mom’s desk, careful to group two together and the one I liked slightly separate. I watched as they critically appraised each one. They kept debating the merits of each. They kept coming back to the obvious selection, but continued the discussion. I did my best to be patient.

Eventually, I ran out of patience so I pointed to the two grouped ones and said, “These two are nice . . .”

“Oh, no,” they said almost in unison. Chrisie continued, “I say we use this one.” She pointed to my original selection.

“He probably would have picked one of these two,” her mother said.

“Maybe,” I said, “The one you like is the least expensive.” I actually didn’t know if that was true or not. Either way, it cemented the decision.

“Now, what about the actual type?”

“I’m going to handle it,” I said. My future mother-in-law squinted her eyes and fixed me with a stare that would cause any man to tremble.

“But is it going to be right?”

“Yes,” I assured her, “and we’ll also save a lot.”

“Will we get to see it before it’s printed?”

“Of course, I’ll work it up and show it to ya’ll and make sure you’re happy with it. What should it say?”

“It doesn’t matter, just make it nice. People don;t read wedding invitations anyway. They only look at the names and the date.”

“Okay,” I said, “I work something up.

That’s what I did. I looked at standard wedding invitations/announcements, found a nice font (that’s what I called it), and typed it up. Then I completely re-did it. Several times. I sweated each word, each bit of white space, the size of the letters, and the style. I typed that invitation more times than I would eventually practice my vows to myself.

I finally reached a point I felt finished and printed out a sample. I thought it matched our simple yet elegant base and was very happy with it. Of course, it still had to pass two much harsher critics.

To my delight, they loved it.

“I guess you are talented,” Chrisie’s mom beamed.

“I won’t disagree,” I said, “but both of you look it over. I want to make sure everybody is happy with it and it’s right. I used spell check and all, but I wan you both to make sure.”

“It looks great. When can we have them printed?”

“I’ll run it over right now. We can have them next week probably.”

They treated me wonderfully for that week. I made a beautiful invitation and saved money. They treated me very nicely for several days and I thought nothing could ruin my mood. I thought. Everything was fine until I picked up the invitations.

I glanced at them at the print shop. What I saw was, um, less than optimal. The invitations looked beautiful and were set exactly as I designed them. That was the problem.

Here’s a funny thing about spell check in 1997. It wasn’t as good as it is now.It was really great at finding misspelled words, but didn’t do grammar and context as well as many of the tools we have today. Basically what that means is that it just checked that words were spelled correctly and not if they made sense in the context of a sentence.

“Oh, no,” i uttered, miserably.

“What?” asked the shop owner. I showed her.

“Oh no!” she said, “You know-”

“Yes, it’s my fault, so you’ll have to charge my to reprint. I know. Let me get back to you on that.”

I took the invitations over to Chrisie and her mom and hoped for the best. They oohed and over them. I kept waiting for them to notice, but they didn’t.

“There’s a problem with the invitations.” I couldn’t take it any longer.

ahed”What?” they both asked.

“It’s right here,” I said as I pointed out the misspelled word. Their eyes widened as they stared at me.

“How did you miss this?”

“I made a mistake. But to be fair, both of you looked at this before I took in to the printer as well.” They were both aghast.

“But I just looked at the names and date to make sure you got them right. I figured you’d get the rest right,” her mom said.

“Well, I didn’t get it right unfortunately. But neither did you.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Well, we can get them reprinted of course, ” I started (and I watched her mom calculate the cost), “Or, we could just send them out.”

“Wait . . . what?

“We could just send them out. No one reads wedding invitations. They just look mat the names and the dates. NO one will ever know unless we tell them, and afterwards, we’ll have a great story!”

They both seemed dubious, so I decided to persuade more, “Let’s just show it them to a few people and ask what they think. We won’t tell them anything’s wrong and we’ll see if they notice.”

They agreed after a little cajoling and that’s what we did. It was a good plan. Actually, it was a great plan, because almost nobody noticed the problem. Almost.

The last person we showed it to poured over the invitation. He then started tapping the card and said, “You’re going to want to make them redo this.”

“Why?” I asked, hoping against all hope that he thought it was a bad color.

“Because I don’t think you’re inviting people to do gardening. See right here? You’re inviting people to your weeding. I don’t want to pull weeds, I’d rather watch you get married.”

I was crestfallen and wished he wasn’t so smug about it. Later, when we were alone, Chrisie said, ” I guess you’ll just have to fix them.”

“What? You mean get them reprinted?”

“No, I mean fix them.”

“How?” She handed me a very fine tipped felt pen. “You can’t be serious. You want me to write on 200 invitations? That’ll be more obvious than the typo! Besides, it’ll be a great story! We can tell people how we invited 200 people to our weeding. No one will believe us until we show them the invitation. Then they’ll feel stupid and we’ll all laugh. It’s perfect!”

“Just fix it.”

“But no one noticed!”

“One person did.”

“But he’s the same guy who says we shouldn’t even get married. We’re not going to listen to him about that, so why should we listen to him about the invitations?”

“Because I said so!”

“Is this how it’s going to be after we get married?”

“I’m putting my foot down.”

“Yes, dear. I’ll do it.” I’m a quick study.

I spent a couple of days carefully changing the second “e” into the first “d” before we mailed them all out.

Not a single person noticed.

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.

About leighton

I could be considered a true Renaissance Man after having a long and storied (seriously, people actually tell stories about it) college experience and varied careers. I am also a shameless self-promoter (who did you think was writing this anyway?) who is prone to flights of fancy, an abundance of passion on any given subject, ,obsessive behavior, spontaneous storytelling (whether anyone listens or not), and making parenthetical references. I would also be thrilled if I heard someone use the word "raconteur" to describe me.
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1 Response to When Technology Fails

  1. Pingback: Complex Ideas | Stories Now Told

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