Dude! What Does Mine Say?

My son lost an envelope with money in it somewhere in his bedroom. That should be enough information for you to form an accurate mental picture of his bedroom.

I knew he had spent the day looking for the envelope, so that evening, I knocked on his door and went into his room. He was wearing headphones and playing an online game, but he could still hear me. I asked him, “Did you find the money?”

He said, “No.”

So I asked, “Where was it?”

He said, “I didn’t find it.”

I said, “Yeah, I heard you, but where was it?”

He took off his headphones, turned and looked directly at me so I could read his lips, and slowly enunciated, “I didn’t find it.” “Fool of a Took” was left unsaid.

Then I realized what the communication issue was. I said, “Yeah, I meant where were you keeping it? Where was it the last time you saw it?”

Part of my job is to try to see how a sentence could be read from everyone’s perspective. I do a pretty good job, but I’m not always successful. Another pair of eyes on the copy is always good.

Sometimes I get hired to edit copy, and there are often grammar and syntax errors. Sometimes a sentence is ambiguous, like my question to my son, and I’ll change it. I always tell the client that if they have any question about why I changed something, please ask, but I know sometimes they have no idea why I changed something. If they change it back, I’ll explain my reasoning, but generally, they just roll with it.

And no, my son still hasn’t found the money. Maybe under that pizza box over there…

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