Candy Stripers & Autocorrekt

As a writer, one thing you want to strive for is complete ackuracy. You don’t want grammatical mistakes in your work because this undermines your writing and makes you look like a toad.

Still, errors and typos do happen. One of the main culprits is autocorrect. Modern computers and smartphones are always correcting spelling without your permission, and the software often gets it wrong. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been burned by autocorrect.

I once wrote a heartfelt column about a man who nearly died in the hospital. I attempted to tell his story by describing his tearful return home. When I wrote about how his daughters rolled his wheelchair up the sidewalk and into his house for a triumphal entry, autocorrect happened.

I wrote: “Today, the old man’s family pushed him straight into his casket.”

I was aiming for the word “castle.”

Here’s another one:

My friend and fellow writer, Beau, was writing a social media post for his wife who was returning home after a trip to Europe. Beau wrote a romantic essay for her in which he stated: “I have been waiting all month to see those big beautiful dimples again.”

Big deal, you’re thinking, what’s wrong with that? The big deal is that autocorrect replaced “dimples” with a word that rhymes with “fipples.”

So the main problem with autocorrect is that it’s on drugs. You’ll be typing along and misspell the word “hapy” and your device immediately grasps what you were trying to write and helpfully replaces the word with “Russia.”

When I wrote this column, for instance, my computer flagged misspellings on words like “Beau,” and “fipples,” but it had no problem with “ackuracy.”

Still, this is no excuse. As a writer you must painstakingly proofread your work and catch all your senseless eros.

Which is why I highly recommend getting married to a math teacher. Speaking from experience, math teachers make excellent proofreaders because in the world of mathematics there is no room for mistakes. A math teacher is accustomed to following strict rules. My math-teaching wife can look at my incorrect verb conjugations and announce with total certainty, “My husband is an idiot.”

I bring all this up because in a recent column I wrote about an elderly woman who received a farewell party at a medical facility, I misspelled a crucial word. Actually, autocorrect misspelled it. Nevertheless, I take responsibility.

Here’s what I wrote:

“They were all there. Rehab nurses, janitors, orderlies, candy strippers…”

You’ve probably already caught the mistake.

I unintentionally wrote that exotic dancers, possibly named Candy, were present for the stirring hospital send off of an elderly Methodist woman.

What I meant to write, of course, was “candy stripers,” a term applied to female hospital volunteers.

This mistake earned me lots of emails. And it gave me great pleasure to forward each irate email to my proofreading math teacher.

I was, however, surprised to receive emails from youngish people who asked what exactly candy stripers were. Many youngsters had never heard of them. You have to worry about where this country is going.

So for any young people who don’t know what a candy striper is, let me tell you about them.

The whole idea started in 1944, at Vernon L. Davey Junior High School in East Orange, New Jersey, where Miss Ruth Lindsay was teaching a civics class. Miss Ruth came up with an idea for her students to volunteer at a local hospital.

She gave the girls in her class red-and-white striped fabric for uniforms, and the whole class—this just shows how different times were—sewed their own pinafores. Many girls thought the smocks made them look like walking peppermint candies. Candy stripers.

The first candy stripers started in East Orange General Hospital, they wore Red Cross patches to show patients they had completed Red Cross training. And in just over a decade, Miss Lindsay’s concept of junior hospital volunteers had spread to 47 U.S. states, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Australia, and Israel.

There have been millions working in the medical profession who claim their experiences volunteering as candy stripers motivated them to enter the medical field.

Over the decades the red-and-white aprons started fading out when males started joining up. Today, junior hospital volunteers usually wear polo shirts and khakis. Technically, these volunteers are still candy stripers.

I actually worked as a male candy striper one summer with my church as a teenager. And let me state for the record, I didn’t wear a striped pinafore dress. Mine was just plain.

So I hope I’ve cleared things up. And I also want to apologize for any pain and suffering my misspelling brought to anyone who has ever brought kindness to others by performing the services of a candy stripper.


  1. Susan - July 7, 2021 6:23 am

    I may be weird but I adore auto correct! Don’t get me wrong, AC gets on my last nerve many times but the laughs it gives me can’t be beat. Of course, I’ve learned to proof read my messages because AC throws out random acts of poo in my typing! And my daughter and I have renamed it FUAC ! As for candy stripers I remember them with great fondness.

    • Bob E - July 7, 2021 12:59 pm

      FUAC – Frustrated Unwanted Auto Correct?

  2. Lander - July 7, 2021 7:19 am

    Yeah, I thought about writing to you about those candy strippers. I thought a few columns before that about the difference between lead, as in the act of leading, led, when somebody done did it, and lead, the soft metal that made everybody in Flint, Michigan so sick. Lots of times I see folks write it as the metal when they mean something somebody did. Is that a homonym, when it sounds the same but means something different? Lead, led, but that’s different from read, read. And red is something of a completely different color. And who knows what auto co-wrecked has done, cause I haven’t proof red this.

    But I didn’t right because I had gone back and read a column not long ago about a grammar nazi who might’ve had better things to do. Didn’t want to offend you, cause that can be like a lead balloon.

  3. Norma Den - July 7, 2021 8:40 am

    Oh Sean, you make my day. My worst with AC was a business type message where I had written the word HERE, my then “Sam singing” phone changed it to heterosexual 🙈🙈🙈🙈. Thanks for today’s blog, it been a bad start to my day but this has cheered me up. God bless you.

  4. pdjpop - July 7, 2021 9:37 am

    I won’t use the word I usually put in front of autocorrect. But yes, it is a pain. I don’t always proofread as I should and sometimes I really get a laugh at myself. Hopefully my audience gets it. You can turn it off but what’s the fun in that?
    My wife was a candy striper in jr high. Back then her name was Candy. She became a nurse after college and later a hospital administrator.Upon arriving in a major city for a job, she noticed in advertisements of every type, gentleman clubs had a stripper named Candy Barr, Candy Cane … etc. That day, she became Candace.
    She got the job without incident.
    As always, thanks. A great story. Informative as well.

  5. Steve Scott - July 7, 2021 10:54 am

    Yes! and “helpful” voice recognition. I dictated some directions to my house for a woman whose little daughter was a fan of my children’s books. Good thing I checked before sending it. It had changed “Heiferhorn Way” to “No Effing Way.” Voice recognition and autocorrect are my wurst enemas!

  6. Amy - July 7, 2021 10:56 am

    Honestly read right past it because the column was too sweet and I knew what you meant. But today’s column reminded me of when I served as a candy striper and how much I enjoyed it. Hadn’t thought about that in years, thanks for stirring up good memories!

  7. Leigh Amiot - July 7, 2021 11:07 am

    Ditto what Steve said about voice texting! It hears my slight southern drawl in a way not intended. It also often makes a word possessive that I meant to be plural.
    But whatever, if we’re posting or reading this, we’re pandemic survivors, thank You, Lord!
    Now to survive Elsa who doesn’t seem to be packing too much punch, by Florida standards anyway. In my neck of the woods, most of the hurricanes have fizzled to tropical storms by the time they get here (southern Georgia).

  8. Ed (Bear) - July 7, 2021 11:54 am

    I enjoyed and appreciate your article! I’m not a masochist or a writer by nature but I enjoy writing too. I like the challenge of taking my disordered mind through what I aspire to become ordered hoops on my website! I’ve often been attacked and dismantled because of spellcheck but I have also often been rescued by it. So I’m somewhat on the mathematical and grammatical fence as to its robotic merits. I’m not a natural born writer like yourself, so I tend to rewrite a lot and autonomous aides can be a welcome un-disordering sight. But unfortunately, as you well pointed out, autocorrect can trigger negativity… which we all know the Devil loves.

  9. Lisa Wilcox - July 7, 2021 12:03 pm

    I did catch that error but figured you were entitled to make a few given the volume of your (awesome) writing! This one, however, vindicated you& will go into my “Keepers” file of my favorites by you!

  10. Jonathan Byrd - July 7, 2021 12:10 pm

    So your dress was a plain dress, not striped? Well, at least it wasn’t a stripped dress.

    Personally, I just say that autocorect isn’t. And I have misspelled autocorect deliberately so much that mine no longer does.

  11. Penn Wells - July 7, 2021 12:24 pm

    Not to worry. The brain is not only an amazing machine, it has a mind of its own (dang! Good one, Penn!). Often, but not always, we are so into the flow of the story, that our brain’s ‘mind’ has already put the right word in the sentence, even if you skrew it up… so don’t let your neurosis get in the way, just keep writing!

  12. Heather Miller - July 7, 2021 12:28 pm

    Sean, you are priceless. A fine history lesson taught with your super fun creativity. I was never a Candy Stripper, but I did enjoy volunteering in a NICU as I entered antiquity. Your writings either make my eyes water, or I choke on my coffee while reading your blog, having a fit of laughter. Personally, I hate autocorrect with a flaming passion, and I’m 84 (today). I’ve hated it for several years. Who is this idiot that sits inside my computer, IPad, cell phone, and dares to think I don’t know what I want to say!! Thanks for being you, thanks for your writings, and if you find Mr. Autocorrect in person, give him morphine to dull the pain while breaking his fingurs. Feingers. FINGERS!!

  13. Nancy Crews - July 7, 2021 12:40 pm

    ❤your writing.. I volunteer at the children hospital. I wish we still had candy strippers. I wish everyone volunteered somewhere.

  14. Sandra Pritchett - July 7, 2021 12:46 pm

    My experience with autocorrect: a friend asked to visit one night but I had showered and dressed for bed. My response was “let’s take a rain check visit as I am in my nightwear”. Autocorrect changed nightwear to nightmare which is still being joked about. That post caused me to read before I send!

  15. Bob E - July 7, 2021 12:58 pm

    Everyone can use God’s blessings at one time or another.
    That includes stripers and strippers and writers and readers…
    God bless them/us all.

  16. Debbie Harbin Hining - July 7, 2021 1:06 pm

    I loved your story about Candy Stripers! Brought back fun memories to me. I even went upstairs to my cedar chest and found my uniform from 1967 when I was Candy Striper at Holy Family Hospital in Southwest Atlanta! You always make me laugh.

  17. Paul McCutchen - July 7, 2021 1:48 pm

    When I do write a story, it usually just goes to my friends and my mom. One friend first and she will always check my spelling and grammar. She says she likes the fact she gets to see the stories first.
    I enjoy reading yours every morning. Great way to start the day.

  18. Sally Speaker - July 7, 2021 1:58 pm

    😂 lol! I loved being a candy striper and couldn’t wait to get there every day after school. That program probably saved my life from a lot of angst at home. Love your column, Sean.

  19. Kathie - July 7, 2021 2:02 pm

    You are so bad, Sean. You make me laugh. Love your every column, even when you make me weep.

  20. Debbie Harbin Hining - July 7, 2021 2:05 pm

    By the way, Sean…. I believe the “auto correct” is wrong in your first sentence! The word should be, “accuracy”! 😜

  21. Holly Decherd - July 7, 2021 2:07 pm

    Wonderfully funny! Think of the entertainment we receive when we read our texts to friends/loved ones… can’t help but wonder what they would think if they received it as autocorrect printed it…

  22. Susan Marler - July 7, 2021 2:08 pm

    Still chuckling, and cursing that @#$*€d autocorrect!

  23. Chaz Cone - July 7, 2021 2:47 pm

    There’s an entire website devoted to this. When I’m in need of belly laughs I go there. I have other problems, too…

  24. Phil (the Brown Marlin) - July 7, 2021 3:19 pm

    Grate one, Shawn. I never use autokorrek. I prefer to do my own mechanicing. We are both married to math teachers, but mine is no champion speller. She asks me how to spell various easy words all the time. She is super at math, however, which has always been my weakest subject.
    BTW, I caught the “stripper” error in your previous blog, also.

  25. Bartley Rogers - July 7, 2021 3:28 pm

    Look at the bright side: you got a second column out of it, no charge!

  26. Linda Moon - July 7, 2021 4:39 pm

    Well. As soon as I read the title of this post, I thought of a stripper named Candy Barr. And I thought of yesterday’s post, too. Then, you redeemed yourself and cleared my mind in your exposition of Candy Stripers as I continued to read. My brain is much smarter than auto correct, and my vision is corrected with #2.75 reading glasses. So if my typed words are speld rong, I’ll get some #3.75 readers soon. Now, go talk to a real stripper and tell us her story!

  27. Philip Elder - July 7, 2021 5:02 pm

    We had a client’s system go down. It was a tense bit of time getting things back in order.
    Once back online, the owner had texted me asking how things were going.
    AC changed my “Things are great” to “Thongs are great”.
    I caught it which is unusual for me (dyslexic here).
    I still have issues with it …

  28. Marc Beaver - July 7, 2021 5:14 pm


  29. Suellen - July 7, 2021 5:33 pm

    Years ago one of my salesmen who was named Jim Bob used to send me stories he had written. Jim Bob was many years past retirement age but loved working and he loved writing too. He titled his column From the Outhouse. His stories were full of colorful people, even more colorful language, and misspellings. They were pure country and full of heart. I still have some saved even though Jim Bob departed this world 15 years ago or more now. Keep writing from the heart Sean. We have the ability to read right through that stuff. I have a feeling when I’m gone someone is going to find your stories that I’ve saved too.

  30. Peggy ALEXANDER - July 7, 2021 6:38 pm

    I didn’t catch your stripper mistake😂😂I was too busy enjoying your story 😊I wonder how many noticed it and how many didn’t 🤣🤣

  31. Stacey Wallace - July 7, 2021 6:49 pm

    Sean, thank you for your hilarious article! I don’t like autocorrect either. I’m a retired English teacher who greatly misses the 20th century. I write a weekly restaurant review for a local paper. I hand write my rough draft and type the final. However, sometimes, my stupid Microsoft Office will underline a word I type and will suggest a WRONG alternative to my word. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH! Please keep writing; you make my day. Thanks!

  32. Patricia Gibson - July 7, 2021 6:52 pm

    😂😂😂I guess people just can’t help letting you know when there is an error. I, too, have been the victim of autocorrect so I truly get it. Love you

  33. Rhondda - July 7, 2021 8:50 pm

    Perfect way to end the day
    Nothing so sweet as candy strippers

  34. David S Doom - July 8, 2021 3:02 am

    I wrote about my favorite football team, the Crimson Tide. Auto-correct changed Nick Saban to Nick Satan, which pleased Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and Michigan fans.

  35. johnallenberry - July 8, 2021 3:38 am

    Ackurate. Fun fact: If you slip up spelling “congrats!” on a friend’s facebook post, often times Auto correct will change it to “ingrates!”

  36. Laurie - July 8, 2021 4:28 am

    Sean- I am a kindergarten teacher and I love finding misspellings just like your wife. Teaching correct grammar is a favorite of mine. I laughed at your misspelling… it was no biggie. The biggie is I was a candy striper I high school and I loved it. It gave me such freedom and the ability to be a friend to the patients on the heart floor. I’ve never heard the history and I can’t wait to share it with my kiddos. Thanks a million!

  37. Debbie g - July 8, 2021 10:02 am

    You do not correct love letters My goodness. We all knew what you meant
    ❤️To you and Jamie 😀

  38. Geneva Boehs - July 8, 2021 2:05 pm

    My favorite experience with auto correct was a few years ago standing on the corner of Illinois St and Georgia St in Indianapolis waiting on my husband and family to pick me up to go for dinner. I quickly sent him a text to tell him where I was and told him I was in front of “Harry and Izzy’s”. I sent it without proofreading and couldn’t figure out why they were all laughing when they picked me up. It had change it to “in front of oxyacetylene”! Go figure!
    Thanks for the laughs, Sean!

  39. Ann - July 9, 2021 5:10 am

    Let me say as a ministers wife that autocorrect will make you cuss…even when you didn’t mean to. Literally!!! Proofread and totally missed it. Send it out for everyone and God to see!!!

  40. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - July 9, 2021 8:02 pm

  41. Stephen Herchak - July 10, 2021 1:36 am

    Best one I ever heard was decades ago when an “interest group” in the beginnings of desktop publishing produced a newsletter (hard copy) to assist those of us who were still struggling with understanding how computers (and now, all variety of “smart” devices think). A column stressed the importance of LOOKING what spell check was changing your word to before automatically hitting Accept. She worked for a firm that dealt in religious publications and I don’t recall what she typed in but the change she declined to accept, fortunately, was to substitute her typo to read “Jesus and his twelve testicles.”

  42. Bill Harris - July 22, 2021 1:01 am

    Thank you Sean


Leave a Comment