Dave McElhinny: Menus and autocorrect create unappetizing combination

Friday, July 5, 2019 | 12:01 AM


When you read and write for a living, it’s hard to shut it off when you go home for the day. Almost instinctively, I discover myself silently editing everything. I’m sure it’s the same for people in other professions. I’m sure mechanics always look at vehicles with a critical eye, engineers certainly look carefully at buildings and bridges, a proctologist is likely to be driving home from work when … well, they probably just go home after work, but you get my point.

But in my profession, it’s all about the words.

I saw a “no parking” sign last week and under it was a second sign that read “vehicles parked here will be fine.” Just one missing letter created confusion. I wonder how that would hold up in court.

Billboards, advertisements, bake sales, if it has letters, I find myself scrutinizing every syllable.

One area where this affliction presents me with some hard decisions is going to restaurants.

Hastily proofread menus, combined with an autocorrect feature that seemingly has a devious sense of humor, and it only takes a few misplaced letters to change that item significantly.

Whether it’s Anger Hair pasta, Muchroom Soup or chili by the bowel, these are some actual descriptions I’ve seen that have made me wince over the years.

I understand better than anybody how easy it is to make a mistake, so I would never say anything to the owners, I simply order something else. After all, I have made more mistakes over the years than I care to recall and worked for a publication that even made “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno when he’d read the mistakes to the audience.

In fact, I once worked for a newspaper where a grocery store advertisement for “Angus Beef” left off the “G.”

So clearly, I know I’m not perfect. But when it comes to food, I just cannot bring myself to order something that isn’t spelled correctly. It truly has nothing to do with being a grammar snob. The reason I have a hard time selecting a menu item with a perceived typo is because what if it isn’t a mistake? What if it’s exactly what it says?

What if I order handmade dumpings in secrete sauce, served with French beard, homemade crap dip and chocolate mouse for dessert and the menu turns out to be correct? Wouldn’t that be a shock? Well, those are all actual menu mistakes.

Fried Catfist with an ear of sweat corn would be pretty gross, a tray of Cheese and Crack could get you arrested, and a Hand and Cheese sandwich could cost you an arm and a leg.

Sure, they’re probably just typos, but just to be on the safe side, I usually stick to the appetizer menu. It’s much safer.

I’ll just order the Jalapeno poopers?