A misplaced word or letter can have hilarious results. Take, for instance, this sign: Please pay your parking fee before existing. I think that’s extreme, don’t you? Or this fortune cookie: You will gain admiration from your pears. No mention of bananas or apples. Here are a few more chuckle-worthy typos:

On a scholastic float: Exploring art and literacy. Literacy? This sign at a store: Restroom for costumers only. I guess you have to dress up if you have to go. This title on a wedding shower card: Love is sweat. Well, there’s more truth to that than you might think. This sign outside a hotel. Free wife. I hope they meant “free wifi.”

Most typos are harmless. But some typos have disastrous consequences. Take for instance, NASA’s Mariner 1 disaster in 1962. The Mariner 1 was built to get a close look at Venus, but an absent hyphen in the computer coding caused the craft to veer off course. When it became clear that Mariner 1 was little more than a giant Scud missile hurtling towards the North Atlantic shipping lane, NASA had no choice but to detonate the $80 million craft less than five minutes after launch. Novelist Arthur Clarke called it “the most expensive hyphen in history.”

Another typotastrophe occurred in Japan when an employee of Mizuho Securities was tasked with selling 1 share of a job recruiting firm for 610,000 yen. Simple enough. But the poor guy flipped his numbers around, offering 610,000 shares at 1 yen a piece. Before he could correct his mistake Mizuho Securities had lost $225 million. I don’t suspect this employee received a promotion. Typos. They remind me of how small things can have a huge impact. One of the devil’s greatest lies is this: “It’s just a small thing. Go ahead, flirt with that co-worker. Tell one small lie. Big deal. Just take a quick look at that website. What harm will it do?” But broken lives begin with tiny missteps. A pastor caught in adultery told me this. So did an executive convicted of fraud. For both the road to disaster began with small compromises.

Listen to James 1:14-15: “Each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” This is the nature of sin. It starts small, then grows like a noxious weed, robbing our integrity, bringing death and ruin.

So today let’s say yes to God’s voice. Let’s make things right. And watch him take our worst typos and bring something good. Reminds me of a sign posted in the restroom: Employees must wash hands before living.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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