My Favorite Mistake – Thanks Ohio Trucking!

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Business Writing | 0 comments

Some of you might be saying, “What’s it really matter if there’s a grammatical or spelling mistake in the email I sent out? My customers know what I mean.” And that very well might be true. Your customers may not care a lick. So why bother? I’m betting that was the attitude of a trucking company in Ohio when they placed an advertisement for a diesel mechanic in the spring of 2009. Why bother? Because if nothing else, you won’t open yourself up to snarky ridicule from jagoffs like me.

For two years, I worked as a career counselor at a large technical school in Wyoming. Part of my job was to unearth job leads for our graduates all across the country. This was easier said than done after the recession pushed the automotive job market off the edge of the world, so I was very happy to stumble across an ad that said…


Now the owner of this trucking company had obviously had a previous worker who annoyed the living drivetrain out of him. This led to a very specific set of characteristics he was looking for in his next employee. (The following advertisement is edited and reads as it should’ve had all the spelling and punctuation been correct. Also I completely made up the owner’s name)

Hard working diesel mechanic wanted. 3-5 years experience preferred but not necessary. Must be able to repair clutches, powertrains, hydraulic and electrical systems, and perform all other routine preventative maintenance. Tools provided by shop. Must be able to SHOW UP ON TIME! None of this getting here and THEN eating breakfast. Eat your damn breakfast before you get to work! Employees are expected to get to work at start of shifts, not hang out eating breakfast all morning. Knowledge of HVAC systems and CDL driver’s license is a plus. If interested contact owner Jim Biscuits at (440) 555-TRUK.

First off, the backstory here has to be incredible. You can easily picture the scene. Some greasy dude who’s never seen the inside of a gym comes waddling into the shop and punches in. He sits down and uncrinkles a few wrappers.

Jim Biscuits strides out of his tiny office filled with musty old hot-rod calendars. “Pudley, I need you to replace that radiator hose as soon as possible.”

“Yeah, Jim, I’ll get to it as soon as I finish this Egg McMuffin.”

I don’t know what Jim actually looks like, but I’m picturing a balding 55-year-old with a mustache who may or may not keep his shades on at all times. I imagine this same scene playing out every day for two weeks, Jim’s face getting redder and redder each day, until one morning he explodes and slaps the sandwich right out of Pudley’s hand. Egg and cheese spiral across the shop floor and smack to the wall.

“Get the hell out of my garage!” Jim yells, pointing a gnarled finger toward the door. “I don’t pay you to eat Burger King in a folding chair!”

“It’s McDonalds.”

“I don’t give damn if it’s from The Dog Dirt Shack! Now march your Sally ass out that door.”

I’m also betting that if you looked at the wall today, the remnants of dried cheese serve as a friendly reminder to the other employees that shop time isn’t to be used for pursuits outside of work.

The most amazing thing about this ad is that the experience was so infuriating for Jim that he spent nearly half the copy reiterating that all candidates who were incapable of eating breakfast before coming to work need not apply. Knowing when to eat and the actual mechanical skills required for the position were given equal priority.

And that’s not the best part of the ad. Not even close. If you’ll give careful analysis to the paraphrased advertisement in question, you’ll notice that I underlined one particular word. Why did I underline this word? Because Jim was in such a hurry to place the ad and so riled up about the breakfast villains in his shop that he made the most hilarious omission I’ve ever seen.

He left out the “f” in shifts.

Which changes the entire meaning of that sentence. What Jim needs, no demands, are employees who can get to work at the very beginning of their bowel movements. Not in the middle or near the end. At the very inception of potty time. That’s when you arrive at my shop, damn it!

Employees are expected to get to work at the start of (expletive deleted), not hang out eating breakfast all morning.

And that requires a special type of person – a person that not only understands the intricacies of a Peterbilt engine, but also is blessed with a nearly monk-like control of their own digestive system. And those people are very, very hard to find. Which is why Jim had to place a national ad. Guys like that ain’t just wandering around Akron ya know.

I taught lessons on resume writing and interview skills to all the arriving students each semester. That particular ad was a remarkably effective example of why everyone (mechanics included) should take a minute or two to proofread. My guess is you don’t want to make a mistake that’s so ridiculous it causes someone to use it as a bad example at a tech school fifteen hundred miles away. And yet I’ll bet good money that right now at this very moment, there’s a funnier mistake on someone’s business website just waiting to be found and mocked. (If it’s on this one, uh, I meant it to be there to serve as an example. You betcha)

Anyway, Jim, I’m going to go get myself some breakfast now and there’s nothing you or your dumb mustache can do about it. And afterwards, I’ll shift when I’m good and ready.

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