May 30, 2006

the once every decade MFU

This is not the kind of post that makes clients feel warm and fuzzy. So if you are one, go read about my puppy. For everyone else, let me describe how much cosmic energy I am devoting to remaining hyperaware these days to stave off the MFU--Major Fuck Up.

It happens to me about once a decade. Always has. The first time, I was 24 and it was only after printing thousands of magazines (printing was a big deal in 1986) for the New York State Board of Education--me having done the typesetting and layout in PageMaker on a Mac (was it a disk-swaping 512K or SE back then, I can't remember), as well as the photography, the editing, and managing of the production--that the head of Grants Development who wrote an article for the publication noticed her title read: "Director, Office of Grants Develoment and Procurement" - develOment. develoooooment.

Besides that, it was perfect, but close enough for jazz doesn't count in publishing.

The next time was 1996 and it was my first big contribution in my new director of corporate comm position at the now-defunct Systems Techniques, where I talked them into letting me design and print catch-all folders, classy die-cut ones, that we could use for press kits, presentations, proposals, etc. In other words, I was trying to help the company grow up a little from stapled handouts. And the resulting die-cut, classy folder was beautiful, except that no one who proofed it--including yours truly--noticed that the name of the company had a typo in it on the front inside flap: "Sytems" Techniques. Clear as day. How the heck? Amazing how that shit shows up like neon once you have 10,000 printed and stacked in boxes.

Ingenuity is the mother of CYA, so I spent the next months, whenever I had free time, cutting the flaps off the folders and turning them into presentation covers we could use as fronts and backs with our binding machine to dress up our presentation handouts. Not exactly a perfect solution, but it beat tossing them in the garbage. My very forgiving CEO started using the folders anyway: "Hell, I didn't notice it," she said, "I doubt anyone else will."

Now it's 2006, and I've always been one with a keen sense of time, just ask George, and I can feel that little MFU devil on my shoulder at least twice a week --> "Hmmm, something seems amiss, did you forget anything? double check, triple check and watch what you say..."

Maybe blogging this will break the curse, the jinx, the repetition compulsion -- whatever it is -- or maybe I'll just have to be thankful that small print runs don't cost what they used to, and print on demand makes fixing screw-ups easier.


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4 comments:

Chantel said...

I'm fucking up on a daily basis. I'm used to it. It's when it doesn't happen that I get worried.

Catastrophe!!

Seth Russell said...

I know just how you feel ... my MFU come more frequently than once a decade. Now i've taken to blogging them in advance and having all my frinds go proof read ... for example my packaging for the solar powered bible is going to press today or tomorrow ... go take a look ... find a mistake ... i dare you ... and if you do get something free from the speaktomecatalog.com ... incidentally, how do you like my gold?

Mike Golby said...

That's publishing, Jeneane. I worked there awhile. Damn, I've always worked there. I've seen runs of academic textbooks come in with 'Paris in in the Spring' typos in their TITLES. And the MD always picks up on the first error, wherever it may be, right off the pallet. During a two-year subbing stint, I got used to it. Something always gets through. What's the maxim; 'We're our own worst subs'? But yep, recalling goofs is much like a publishers' gathering. They never speak of the authors they signed; they speak of those they did not.

adamsj said...

Oh, it brings back an eighties memory.

When I was first learning DTP, I was the manager of the trade book section of a college textbook store. My boss asked me to design the new three-part carbonless forms we sent to teachers in order to learn what books they were assigning for the next semester's classes. I finished up a really good job, in my opinion, and took it around to various people in the store for their opinions. People agreed--it looked good--to the printer it went.

When the cases of finished froms came back, the one error became apparent: Rather than ending correctly with 7048, the telephone number ended with 7448, which spelled out just what I felt like.

Fortunately, that number was to the burger joint next door run by friends, so they got some free publicity, and we got our phone number corrected by them when they got our calls.

Eventually, my boss took pity on me, so I didn't have to hand-correct all those damn forms. Just most of them.