Thursday, July 13, 2006
Why I Hunt and Peck
The other night in the middle of the night I was awake and out of bed with aching legs. I suppose it was the legs that got me thinking about my mother (she suffered from a similar malady). In turn, I began wondering about some of the simple mistakes we make without a semblance of a reasonable excuse. When I was in the early high school years, my mother tried to teach me Gregg shorthand and touch-typing.
Remember this was before the concept of computers had even appeared in “Popular Mechanics" or "Popular Science". I was aware the only people that took typing or shorthand in school were girls. Mom tried to convince me that these skills would be very useful in college, but I would have none of it.
I know, in the next generation, I would be called a male chauvinistic pig. I know and I suffer for it. On ordinary keyboards I see today’s youth (no matter the gender) type like the wind. These young people can type on a tiny blackberry with two thumbs almost faster than I can think. And I go along hunting and pecking with two fingers and an occasional thumb on the spacebar.
One thing leads to another. I bet if I had overcome my macho-ism and learned to type, I wouldn’t be so dependant on “spell-check” today. Of course, another misplaced some-thing-or-other had effects long after a simple goof. In my first years with a secretary I got fairly proficient at dictating memos, reports and the like. I could use a Dictaphone at home and bring the tapes in or at the office dictate directly to the secretary.
When I arrived in France, I was assigned a secretary. She was older and of the "bath-every-Saturday ,needed-or-not club". She also felt brushing the teeth was “sissy”. Her English was not the best and the dictating sessions were long. Air conditioning was rudimentary and these long sessions of the intimacy required for dictating became painful. I was too chicken to fire her. (There are corporate truths. She and the higher hierachy were long time buddies.) I requested a Dictaphone, but none was forthcoming so I (thinking to be out of options) took to writing out what needed to be typed. I got out of the habit of dictation and never really picked it up again. Of course, in retirement a secretary would be a ridiculous luxury so this message is brought to you via the same hunt and peck process first mastered in high school. Who says we were the generation of progress?