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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Just a Quick Dope-Slap to the Forehead. Ahh. All Better Now?

A re-post, while I come to grips with the eye-watering, cranium-cracking, vertigo-inducing, ear-popping illness du jour. If you need me, I'll be over here, pretending not to watch daytime, court TV...

You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was a straight-A student. No, really! Spelling? No problem. Math? Yep. Science, philosophy, music? You bet.

And so what? Spellcheck has relieved us of the need to spell correctly. Calculators are on everything from phones to, well, calculators. Science comes in handy during Trivial Pursuit and while watching Cash Cab, philosophy makes me a thoughtful and open-minded drunk, and my music knowledge – well, again with the Trivial Pursuit.

I made a mistake in not going directly from high school to college.

And I made a mistake in learning to type.

This is probably going to blow your mind, so you may want to brace yourself against a large bit of furniture, but I type like the freakin’ wind.

Cool, huh?

No. Not really. Because once it’s been discovered that you’re good at something, suddenly, no matter where you are, if there's a need for a typist, no one else in the room can do it.

“Could you just do the typing? I type with two fingers. It’ll go so much faster if you do it.”

A number of years ago we had a college student, an intern, at work. Nice guy, probably 22 or so. He was young and unblemished and wore earnest business casual sweaters with khaki pants. We called him “Intern Boy” in our discussions of him over the lunch hour.

I wouldn’t say he and I were friends. But we were colleagues; and at work, that’s enough, don’t you think?

He stopped by my desk one day.

“Hey,” he said.

I looked up from the report I was furiously typing. Could I get a 25-page report typed and proofread in an hour? My boss had seemed to think so.

He placed a pile of papers on my desk. “I’m going to need these faxed by the end of the day.”

I frowned slightly. “You are, huh?”

“Um,” he said. Was I one of those saucy, quirky secretaries he had seen on prime time TV? He wasn’t sure.

I cocked my head slightly and continued to look at him.

“I don’t know how to fax,” he said.

“It’s easy,” I said. “You see that machine over there? You put the papers, face-down, in the feed. Then you punch the fax number in on the keypad and press the big green button.”

He didn’t move.

Perhaps he hadn’t noticed that the fax machine tutorial was over.

"So voila,” I concluded. “Fish and chips.”

He smiled flirtatiously. “Oh, come on. I’ll just mess it up if I do it,” he said coyly. “I’m sure you do it better than I ever could.”

I thought about the As, the gold stars. I thought about the Pythagorean Theorem, my interest in Russian literature, about how great I had been on those Word Find puzzles in elementary school.

I sighed. Whatever he had been studying the last four years, there had not been time spent on office equipment – or office etiquette.

“I support four of the people on this floor,” I said. “I’m sorry, but you’re not one of them. You’re going to have to learn to operate the fax machine for yourself.”

And I went back to typing.

Poor Intern Boy. He walked over to the fax machine, and I lost track of what he was doing. I hoped he had taken that as simply and as directly as I had phrased it.

There was a large frosted cookie on my desk the next morning.

“Thanks for the Advice,” it said.

Good ol’ Intern Boy.


Sioux Roslawski said...

You handled that quite well. The ability to say "No" is a skill some people don't have. And he SHOULD be grateful for the advice. You could have cut him with a well-placed remark but you were kind and gentle. Bravo!

haphazardlife said...

Ah yes, the old, "well, my deadline is 3:00 pm, so I can give her this 90 page report to format and proof at noon".

And when you're working with engineers who don't necessarily get the whole "a sentence needs a subject" concept, it become a tad trying.

- Jazz

Symdaddy said...

Sad to say that the word 'No' can land you in deep smegma* in my line of work, but I was pleased to read how well you handled the situation.

It would have made for a far funnier post if you had let your razor tongue run wild though.

* Smegma (Greek smēgma, "soap") is a combination of exfoliated (shed) epithelial cells, transudated skin oils, and moisture. It occurs in both male and female genitalia. In males, smegma helps keep the glans moist and facilitates sexual intercourse by acting as a lubricant.

The Simple Dude said...

It's amazing the things one learns in college that have no bearing on what we actually do in the real world. And how some things we do in the real world that we get absolutely no help on through 4+ years of college.

I am one of those bad typers. I just had to pay attention to my typing to determine this, but apparently I use about four fingers, and occasionally one thumb. But never the other one. Weird.


Oilfield Trash said...

I love it.

Pearl said...

I feel it's an unwritten part of my job description to enlighten the young 'uns.

Susan in the Boonies said...

At my house, I plead ignorance when it comes to doing certain things beyond my ken at the computer. It is GOOD to have an IT Slave. I dread the day I end up doing it for myself.

To paraphrase Neil Sedaka, "Growing Up is Hard to Do". (Come-ah come-ah, down shoobee do dum down)

Cait said...


Eva Gallant said...

The tactful no is a much-coveted skill!

Sweet Cheeks said...

At work we have a sign hanging up...'Your Mother Doesn't Work Here - Do It Yourself.'

I love that sign.

Camille said...

Was gettin' all indignant at Intern boy until I read the last line. A large frosted cookie can mend darn near everything in my book. Good Intern boy - *pat*pat*pat - now go away.

Simply Suthern said...

It gets difficult when you become the go to person for any and all things others dont wanna/cant do.

If you want it milled, drilled, turned, or burned go see SS If you need it drawn, lifted, moved or shipped see SS. If you need it typed, faxed, copied, or collated(Or if you just need a smile) go see Pearl.

Red Herring Jeff said...

I read a story once about a guy who had just graduated from college with a business degree. He got a job at a grocery store, and the first thing his new boss did was hand him a broom.
"But I have a degree in business!" the boy complained.
"Oh, in that case...let me show you how to use this." said his boss.
It's funny how many things we learn in college, and how many more things we don't learn.

Hope you feel better soon!

becca said...

well done

Glen said...

a cookie eh - I hope you were at least a little embarrassed eating it!

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! You verbally bitch slap them and they thank you? I like that! Indigo

IndigoWrath said...

And by the way, feel better x

Belle said...

What you said was nice, and what he did was nice. In the work world that is a wonderful thing.

Kal said...

Give a man a faxed fish.....

I had the devil's own typing teacher, Mr Chudobiak teach me to type by being an asshole to me for two years straight. I think he had some future prediction of me becoming a teacher or blogger one day where my typing skill would be essential. I truly type like the wind. I used to 'teach' typing by using Mavis Beacon learn to type software ande by challenging anyone who thought they were up to it to go head to head in a speed test. If they beat me they got fifty dollars. Alot of money you say? Not for one like me who has left all wanna-bees in the dust. I would get teachers complain that their students would be on their typing programs when they should have been doing reports online. My point. Nothing beats the proper motivation for educating someone. Sometimes throwing someone like Intern-Boy into the deep end with his pants and shoes on is the only way he will ever learn.

Arcita said...

thanks for visiting my page. your writing style is quite captivating and entertaining.

powdergirl said...

I'm really glad he brought you the cookie : ) Nice.

I'm sick too. I don't like it!

Gigi said...

Wow - thanking you for telling him to grow up and take care of himself? That's rare, very rare.

Hope you feel better soon. And quite watching daytime tv - it turns your brain to mush!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Ah, someone had a crush on you. Hope you enjoyed the cookie.
Feel better. I've got the bug too. It stinks!

mrwriteon said...

I remember this from first time around, but I loved the re-run. I'd like to have worked with you. Oh, and unlike Intern Boy, I'm a shit-hot typist myself. We journos are like that.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Now I'm confused about whether I hate the Intern Boy for being a total misogynist, or love him a little for appreciating your wisdom.

While I think on it, thanks for stopping by my post at The Girl Next Door!

Mamma has spoken said...

It's hard to believe he couldn't figure out a fax machine especially all the ones I have used, have the directions in picture form on them!

Jhon Baker said...

I made the mistake once of allow my co-workers and boss know how good I was at taking notes and typing. I became the meeting secretary from then on and was charged with all communications, all public documents and the like. I have never since let on that I could write well, type fast and took notes like nobody's business.

darsden said...

The one class I am so happy I did take and attended almost regularly was typing. Mind you I am No wind machine (I cracked myself up a little there) but it has really come in handy with this internet thing!

Lazarus said...

Loved the post, have seen this dynamic a few times, I know that you are the boss behind the boss. I made up an insult a few years ago, one that conveys that someone is old-fashioned and not with modern technology. It is: "He's waiting for a fax." It has never really caught on as a mainstream insult but offshoots I've developed are "He's using a pay phone," and "He's depositing his pay check." Maybe you can help popularize them Pearl. Anyway, funny post, thanks!

John McElveen said...

Dang your good!!!
He said in awe!!!

Hope you are feeling better--and THANKS--you gave it to me..Spent all last night and today whimpering on the couch... like a total man--You know how we are when we get sick right.....

Honey---in death throe barely audible voice.. :-).


River said...

Wasn't he sweet with the cookie!
And of course you made him do it himself.
How else is he going to learn?

FreeFlying said...

I'm kind of impressed by his gumption. To be an intern and have the nerve to walk up to someone typing frantically and attempt to get them to work for you. Ballsy! But, more importantly, REALLY stupid.

Drake Sigar said...

Glad you didn’t take it. What’s your WPM? About 90 here. ^^

Maundering mutterer said...

Hey! Hope you feel better soon. I think Intern boy learned a good lesson from you - a bit more than how to use the fax!

Barbara Blundell said...

Hi Pearl,
Did you know that powerlessness is power ? I didn't until I read it

Renee Fisher said...

My official typing score on my high school transcript is minus three words per minute. That's not easy to do.

Erin said...

My biggest issue with fast typing is that people feel the need to discuss the fact. Multiple times a week as I sit at my desk focused, furiously typing, I feel someone staring at me. I look up and hear something like "wow! if i could type that fast I would only have to work 4 hours a day." So I smile, nod, maybe make a stupid funny back and then I have to figure out where I was and try to refocus. It is not okay to interrupt people when they are in the middle of something just to talk about typing!