Veteran communicator Mike Jenkins shared this one, which he heard like 40 years ago. The man who told it was the late Alden Wood, a grammar columnist who I used to “edit” when I was a lad. That meant taking his typewritten column off the fax and typing it into your Mac as carefully as possible and praying that up, you did not fuck. Because if you did, there would be another fax, thanking you—as Alden once thanked one of my colleagues—”for your subfecal typesetting job.”
Anyway, Alden was from Massachusetts, and Jenkins remembers hearing him tell this at a Boston workshop back in the day:
A guy was in Boston for his first time ever, attending a conference for work. Wanting to get some inside info on the “must-eat food” while in town, he asked the hotel concierge for advice. The concierge gave him a few choices, but then suggested Boston Scrod. Figuring it had to be good since it had Boston in its name, the man decided Boston Scrod was it. The conference was running long, and by the time he had his bag packed and his room charges paid, he had a little more than an hour to get to Logan Airport for his flight home. Handing some cash to the hotel bellman, he jumped into a waiting cab, threw his bag across the bench, and settled into the back seat, as the cabbie asked, “Where to, buddy?” and began heading out of the hotel driveway. Nervous that he might not get to taste Boston Scrod, and might even miss his flight, the guy yelled back, “Quick! Take me someplace I can get scrod!” The cabbie slammed on his brakes, turned around in the front seat, and replied, “I’ve been driving hack for 20 years, buddy, and I’ve had guys ask me to do that 1000 times. But, this is the first time anyone asked it in the pluperfect subjunctive!”
One more story on Alden, because it’s Friday. After the above-referenced subfecal typesetting job, Alden was forced to issue a correction. It was around Halloween, and he wrote a very funny one, as I remember, involving the Hounds of the Baskerville getting into the printing presses and messing up the spelling, or some such.
The hapless typesetter made a typo in the correction.
The fax machine almost exploded.
The publisher gently recommended to the editorial team that we not issue a second correction.
“These things tend to snowball,” he said.