A couple of days ago I was going through some emails at work, replying to important stuff and kicking some less important stuff into the long grass. It’s a shared workspace and the computer is used by a number of colleagues. I noticed, after a couple of minutes, that it had been left on an 'auto-correct' setting and was changing some words as I typed. I’m not keen on that sort of thing; I don’t even use predictive text on my phone, because I don’t like the idea of a piece of software interpreting my intentions, guessing what I’m about to do next (I’m not paranoid, but everyone else thinks I am).
Responding to one particular message, I had to use the phrase his specific requirements. I typed it, added a sentence or two and was just about to hit the ‘send’ button when I froze in horror. There, on the screen, was an electronic grenade with the pin pulled. The software had corrected my intended ‘specific’ to the (in this case) deadly ‘pacific’. I’m guessing that I had somehow missed out the ‘s’ as I hurriedly composed the message. Accordingly, my email now featured the phrase his pacific requirements.
A shiver ran down my spine. I was but one touch of the keyboard -a mere fraction of a second- away from personal and professional humiliation.
As a bit of a purist (some might say language snob, some might say pedantic tosspot), I could never have recovered from the shame of having put such an email into the public domain. Saying "pacific" when you mean "specific" is one of the unforgivable sins. It’s worse than saying "hence why" in a sentence. It’s worse than saying "I was literally shitting myself watching that scary film" when you weren’t literally shitting yourself watching that scary film. It’s worse than saying "I’m going to give this 110%". It’s probably even worse than saying "totes amazeballs".
It is hard to imagine a more heinous crime than sending a message featuring the phrase his pacific requirements. Had I hit the 'send' button and released that toxic email into cyberspace I would have had no choice but to commit hara-kiri, such would have been the shame I would have brought upon myself and my family. I could not have endured the ignominy, the sheer loss of face. I could not have walked the streets again, knowing that people would be sniggering at me behind my back, passing comments about ‘the idiot who says pacific when he means specific’. Ritual disembowelment would have been the only honourable way out.
Hence why, whenever I’m writing emails from now on, I’m literally giving it like 110% concentration, pacifically spelling and grammer wise.