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Thinking about Recalls

It finally happened. After all these years, I got my first recall notice. It was for my car. I called the dealer to schedule an appointment and was told that the first available slot was for nearly six weeks from that date. The scheduler said they had been inundated with recalls for that particular problem.

Was the recall really necessary? I asked.


Well, today was the day. I pulled the car into the service area and produced the recall letter as instructed. As the service manager was checking me in, I made small talk. Had he had a lot of people bringing in their cars for this problem? Not really, he replied. In fact, he couldn’t remember seeing another one before mine. (Then why had the scheduler told me they had been inundated with them, and why had I had to wait nearly six weeks for the appointment?)

It shouldn’t take long, the service manager assured me when I told him that I would be waiting. An hour and a half later, a service person came to the waiting room to tell me that I absolutely needed to have two filters replaced and the cooling system flushed–for only $170 plus taxes. (I politely declined and later replaced the filters, which I already knew had to be replaced) myself.)


That incident also made me think about other kinds of things that often need to be recalled. After having spent decades in the publishing industry as both an editor and a writer, I never cease to be amazed at how often, no matter how carefully one examines the printed page or how many different sets of eyes examine it, mistakes still slip through. Factual errors, omissions, typos, and other problems pop up no matter how careful one is. One’s mind is blinded to what is obvious to first-time readers of the material. One’s mind supplies words that are missing because he or she is too familiar with the content. Often, such mistakes are inconsequential, but at other times they can be critical. Once the product goes to print, it’s too late to correct the errors. Oh, an errata list can be issued or a second edition produced, but that only draws attention to errors that perhaps might not even have been noticed if we hadn’t publicized them.


Whether one is referring to auto mechanics, one’s physical condition, the printed word, or the spoken word, preventive maintenance is always better than a breakdown or a wreck.

Copyright (c) 2017, Dennis L. Peterson

#preventivemaintenance #recalls #speech #writing

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©2020 by Dennis L. Peterson