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Friday, June 26, 2015


Years ago when I worked for a large brokerage firm, my boss, another Joe, was not the brightest bulb in the lamp.  That is not entirely fair, he was not stupid, in fact he knew the business pretty well, he just did not always demonstrate a great knowledge of the English language.
Our department was responsible for Trades Processing on the New York Stock Exchange better known as the NYSE.  My boss spelled trades t-r-a-i-d-s traids.  He was corrected several times and always acted as if it was an oversight, but he always spelled it traids.  Fortunately for him, his secretary knew how to spell.  I used to joke that he couldn't spell NYSE if you spotted him the N and the Y.
Joe could not spell well enough to even know he could not spell, and he could not write a cohesive paragraph.  I have never been a very good speller, but I did know when to use a dictionary, and I did know that trades was spelled t-r-a-d-e-s.  I may not be a terrific writer, but I could always make a point in print, and could generally pass as being literate.  Still, if I wrote even the simplest memo, Joe demanded to edit it before it was sent out.  It was a boss thing.
For several months, I never got a memo or writing of any kind past Joe that he did not make several changes.  Generally his changes did not alter the meaning of what I wanted to convey.  His changes just reflected what he would have written if it was his to write.  I never liked the way his changes sounded.  My wording was better. It used to really piss me off.
At some point I realized that no matter what I wrote, Joe would make some changes just to assert his position.  He had to show he was the boss, and in his mind he felt, “Thank God I edit everything before it is sent out.”
With that in mind I soon learned to make several obvious grammatical errors with everything I wrote.  My boss would happily correct the simple errors, but leave the body of the message unchanged.  I got to send out work with my name that reflected my style, and my boss got to feel superior and needed.
All this was years ago, but I would like to take this opportunity to tell my old boss, “It is spelled t-r-a-d-e-s you moron!  The name of the department you were in charge of was TRADES Processing, not TRAIDS Processing…and you corrected my writing? You fucking idiot!”
Actually he was a pretty good guy, and he did know his stuff, he just could not write worth shit.


  1. I know someone who prides herself on doing the daily crossword in the paper, but has never yet finished one because she can't spell. I have to bite my tongue really hard to stop myself correcting her. She insists she doesn't need help..

  2. Hi Cranky Man,

    I had a boss once who used to run his emails etc. past me because he knew that his spelling and grammar were absolutely terrible.

    In fact, his writing skills were so poor that we used to keep a note of his worst mistakes - they were genuinely funny.

    He had the balls to admit his mistakes - and in that sense, it made him a half decent boss (Note - I am a bit of an anarchist so calling him a "half decent boss" is the greatest praise I can give him; I despise the word "boss" and all it stands for).




  3. My FIL was like that. Secretary. That's who saved his ass.

  4. you learned to work him well. :)

  5. I wrote all my bosses letters, once. And I mean most of the bosses I ever worked for.

  6. Love your inventive way to bypass the situation. Wonder how he does with spell check?

  7. I worked with a guy like this. He was very good at what he did, but he couldn't write a memo or incident report worth a hoot. This post made me think of him.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. ☺

  8. I'm appalled at how many otherwise intelligent people I've known, people who are highly respected in their fields, and verbally articulate, who can't write or spell worth a crap. I always wonder how in the world they ever managed to get their diplomas.

    You played that guy's ego like a well-tuned instrument. Well done!

  9. Wise that you finally figured out how to get your material presented without him editing it. My mom did something similar in school. In one of her classes, they had to write a daily assignment. She always got C's on the work until she asked her friend who got A's how she managed to get A's. The friend told her the teacher didn't read the assignments, just looked how much of the page the work covered. If the work covered to the end of the page it was an A. Sure enough my mom started writing to the end of the page mindless words basically but she got A's.

    She was a good speller though.


  10. It probably felt good to get that out.

  11. I'm a poor speller so I won't cast stones.

  12. I had a principal like that one time. He was a little dictator. He'd send out emails of documents he was planning to send home to parents to give us a heads up. I would run across the hall to a cohort and say, "He CAN'T send that out! Did you see it?" Then I would correct it and she would take the copy and go discuss it with him like it was her idea. Because I was persona non grata in that building, but she was a favored nation.

    I would much rather have let him embarrass himself, but that would have reflected poorly on the entire school.

  13. My husband is BRILLIANT, but he still needs a proofreader--ME!!

  14. When I was a room mother, it was my job to order a cake for the principal's birthday. I painstakingly began to tell them at the bakery that it was spelled "principAL" but was cut off in mid sentence. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know how to spell the word referring to the guy in charge of a school." You've probably guessed what I picked up - "Happy Birthday to the World's Best Principle!"

  15. I try not to judge people on their spelling skills...sometimes I wonder if it's more a genetic ability and not something that's learned. If you can learn to remember your nine-digit social security number, you should be able learn to remember it's "receive" and not "recieve." But that's not the case.

    I received an email from a legal assistant once with the words "for all intensive purposes" in it. Hahahaha.

  16. Omg I try not to but I get very stressed out when senior people can't write/spell/do grammar. I have gritted my teeth in meetings at "one-of" (one-off), "take a new tact", "one in the same" and my favourite "in agreeance". I had an excellent boss who used a made-up word "gevity", as in "longevity" or "short gevity". She was well respected so no one ever corrected her. But I've never heard "traids" before, that's impressively bad!


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