I think it's a good thing to give people second chances, and often even third and fourth chances, and to be accepting of people's mistakes, because mistakes happen and everyone makes them and often life goes on. But if you are tearing down someone's house, please take the time to confirm you are tearing down the correct house. And if you fail to do that — destroying someone else's home in the process — please at least own up to the mistake instead of pinning the blame on Google Maps.
Typically, it's considered polite to apologize when you destroy someone's home
This absurdity is what is happening in Rowlett, Texas right now, where a woman's duplex was destroyed because a demolition company failed to confirm it was on the right street, according to KERA News. A company making a mistake of this magnitude should probably accept responsibility. It was supposed to demolish one house and clearly demolished another. There is no disputing this. But rather than shouldering the fault for this error, someone from the company apparently pointed to screenshots of Google Maps, which mistakenly lists the woman's duplex at the address that was scheduled for demolition, WFAA reports.
Now it is a very human thing to explain why mistakes were made and that is fine and well, and there are some interesting things to ask, maybe, about our growing reliance on imperfect software that controls our lives. But listen, I don't even trust Google Maps to tell me which direction I'm facing when I get out of the subway. When I really need to get somewhere on time, I get there early to make sure I've been pointed to the actual address. So when you are going to an address to demolish it, I highly suggest confirming with, say, no less than two points of signage that you are at the right address. Asking a human at that location might be a good idea, too.
The demolished duplex's owner, Lindsay Diaz, had just applied for a permit to repair the building, according to KERA News. It, along with many other homes in the neighborhood, had been damaged by a tornado around Christmas. An engineer had declared the duplex structurally sound, meaning it could still be repaired.
Google admitted to CNN Money this afternoon that Maps messed up the address. "Google Maps did indeed show incorrect information for the houses in question," a spokesperson said. "The issue was fixed as soon as it was brought to our attention." As far as things go, this is not a bad statement. Note how Google actively confirms its mistake — it even says "indeed."
On the other hand, Billy L. Nabors Demolition — the company said to be responsible for the home's destruction — seems to have a bit to learn about admitting when things go wrong. Diaz says she spoke with the company's president about its mistaken demolition of her home, but the conversation apparently didn't go the way any reasonable person would expect it to. "I was hoping for an apology" from the company's president, Diaz tells CNN. "'I'm sorry my company did this. We'll make it better.' But instead, he's telling me how the insurance is gonna handle it and telling me it's gonna be a nasty fight."
Reached by phone, a representative for Nabors said they would email a statement to The Verge. We'll update this story when they do.