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 now -- well, so what? Spellcheck has relieved us of the need to spell it correctly in the first place. 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 ever-lovin' wind.
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 stops by my desk one day.
“Hey,” he says.
I look up from the report I am furiously typing. Can I get a 25-page report typed and proofread in an hour? My boss seems to think so.
He places a pile of papers on my desk. “I’m going to need these faxed by the end of the day.”
I frown slightly. “You are, huh?”
His face takes on a cautious appearance. “Um.” Am I one of those saucy, quirky secretaries he's seen on prime time TV? He isn’t sure.
I cock my head slightly and continue to look at him.
“I don’t know how to fax,” he says.
“It’s easy,” I say. “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 doesn't move.
Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that the fax machine tutorial is over.
"So voila,” I conclude. “Fish and chips.”
He smiles flirtatiously. “Oh, come on. I’ll just mess it up if I do it,” he says coyly. “I’m sure you do it better than I ever could.”
I think about the As, the gold stars. I think about the Pythagorean Theorem, my interest in Russian literature, about how great I had been on those Word Find puzzles in elementary school.
Whatever he had been studying the last four years, there had not been time spent on office equipment – or office etiquette.
I sigh. “I support four of the people on this floor,” I say. “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 go back to typing.
Poor Intern Boy. He walks over to the fax machine, and I lose track of what he is doing. I hope he had taken that as simply and as directly as I had phrased it.
There is a large frosted cookie on my desk the next morning.
“Thanks for the Advice,” it says.
Good ol’ Intern Boy.