It may not end well when the device takes control

“Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.”


“I’m teaching my granddaughter how to drink,” the message read. Although I knew something was terribly awry, the text from my long-time friend still caught me off guard.

I smiled and replied, “So how do you think that’s going to resonate with mom and grandma?” His instant comeback read, “Drive! I’m teaching her how to drive. Stupid autocorrect!”

Most of life is choices, and the rest is just dumb luck, or so goes the old saying. Combine me and a keyboard with intuitive applications intended for convenience or efficiency, and neither choices nor dumb luck is a guarantee for success.

Technology is great when it’s executed with some degree of accuracy. But miss one little letter while not paying attention, and chances are good that it may not end well when the device takes control.

“I always knew you wanted us to work together again,” read another one-line email message a few years ago.

Knowing that didn’t jive with my intended recipient, I looked at the address and muttered, “Oh man, I did it again.” I had sent my question to the wrong person, in this case, the wrong Gary, long-time friend and former business associate Gary Borders, publisher at The Tribune in Mount Pleasant. Instead, I had inadvertently sent it to Gary Stewart, Director of Community Relations at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. 

I first met Gary Stewart about 1981 at The East Texas Light in Center, also about the same time I met Gary Borders. But while I was communicating regularly with Gary Borders, it had been decades since I talked to Gary Stewart.

The Center newspaper needed an editor back then, and New York native Gary Stewart was a couple of years out of college and looking for a job after having worked briefly in Dallas. After navigating successfully through the standard interview questions, Gary’s answers had positioned him as the likely candidate. Any remaining doubt was erased when he answered my last question, “What do want to be doing five years from now.” 

Rubbing his bearded chin with thumb and forefinger, Gary smiled and said, “That chair you’re sitting in looks pretty good.” Done deal. I hired him on the spot.

During his tenure in Center, Gary honed his skills, successfully ascending to publisher at a sister publication before leaving the company. He also left me with many memories of our time working together and some wonderful stories. Making good friends and telling great stories about them, to me, is one of the life’s most fulfilling rewards.

“I’ve been invited to go hunting this weekend,” Gary announced one Friday at the office. His keen sense of humor and quick wit allowed him to tolerate the good-natured teasing regularly heaped on the lad from New York by his East Texas colleagues. In return, it usually enabled him to also get one-up on us.

“You ever been hunting,” we quizzed him, ready for some fun.

“No,” Gary replied, adding without hesitation, “But it can’t be all that difficult. I figure we’ll just meet at the city park about noon and find something to shoot.”

That same sense of humor years later in the accidental email exchange with Gary was a pleasant surprise, albeit the result of my inept typing skills. The outcome of another errant message some years ago intended for my sister, Leslie, fortunately ended well too. That’s the day a bit of humor went to another Leslie. In this case, the “wrong” Leslie was a vendor’s rep I had never met personally but communicated with on a business basis.

Seeing the wrong last name on the “to” line just as the message flashed into cyberspace, I immediately fumbled through a lengthy apology, quickly sending it on its way. Her response was equally swift. The wrong Leslie said no harm was done, adding she thought the joke was funny. She even promised to pass it along to her friends. 

Thankfully, the dumb luck resulting from my carelessness both times resulted in fortune as good as the friends I’ve made. 

At least I have not announced any unintended confessions on social media of teaching my grandchildren questionable habits … yet.

—Leon Aldridge

. . . . . . . . . . .

Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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