One False Step

My mother tongue is not English, all I know everything about English spelling matters was my English test in the past. As if you spell a word wrong, you would find a big red cross (X) on your paper. That signal is quite dazzling and next time I will try not to make same mistakes and it works. So, sometimes I have to admit that making mistakes is an efficient way to learn things.

Like what happened during my honeymoon in Italy, not only for fun, also quite educational.

Here is the story: We had a GPS in the rental car which can lead us anywhere according to the address we set in. That day we were driving from Ravenna to that little country, San Marino,that is up in the mountain for a short visit then to Florence. Paul was in charge of driving, introducing European histories,double checking GPS addresses I put in, as most of the addresses were in Italian which I was not sure of. I was enjoying everything Paul told me, it was like traveling with your personal guide, whatever you ask him, he would tell you more than you ever expected, just wonderful! So, we had been talking all the way about ancient Roman and Turkish histories, mosaic church ceilings of Ravenna, bible stories, cheese species, Modena vinegar and Paul’s 101st country he’d go, which was our afternoon’s goal — San Marino. It would take about 2 hours from Ravenna to San Marino by car, especially we were taking highway, it’d be even faster. Paul kept asking me about how far to go, I kept telling what I saw from the GPS: to the destination, go straight south. It didn’t take too long for Paul to realize we were on the wrong way as there was no such visual for that mountain. We parked at the gas station, rechecked the GPS found out that I input the address “San Mariano”, worse still, we were more than 200km away from our original destination and it’s already over 2pm. I was wondering, if we go back to Florence directly, we won’t miss our hotel reservation in Florence but Paul would miss his 101 country, I didn’t want that to happen; if we go back to highway to San Marino, we would have less time staying for nice views, risking missing hotel reservation… Paul made the decision rather quickly — go back to San Marino, his 101 country. I was so glad the final result was good, we made a really long ugly U turn, rushed back to San Marino, driving all the way up to the top, marching around the museum and enjoying top views before it was getting sunset. Paul bought me a San Marino flag to remember my missing spelling, I agree that is a great lesson to learn.

What happened that day reminds me there is a similar Chinese phrase: One false step will make a great different. (shi zhi hao li, mv yi qian li.) Well, in my case, my misspelling caused more than 200km away difference. Luckily, my mistake didn’t cause any giant trouble, my husband didn’t abandon me up in San Marino, he bought me nice dinner in Florence, he still loves me.

In another case, one patient was not that lucky. British Medical Journal (BMJ) covered a lawsuit in 2000, an American doctor prescribed a patient who suffered from angina pectoris “Isordil, 20mg, Q6h”, however, the doctor’s handwriting was extremely unrestrained, the pharmacist mistook it as “Plendil”, which is a hypertensive medicine. It caused that patient’s heart attack by overdosing and the patient died a few days later. The court maintained that the doctor as well as the pharmacist are guilty, they would each compensate the patient family $225,000. That is a tremendous tragedy caused by 4 mispelling letters.

It wont’t take too long if we go back double check or even triple check, or if something you are not sure of, we can always ask a friend, coworker, editor or even Google for help. Because you never know what you are going to miss from the right path.


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