Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The typing class

I guess many people have questioned my sanity with Monday’s post all because I passed out an Honest Scrap award on Labor Day (normally a day of rest for many) while creating a ba$$-ackwards post that forced you to laboriously (ha) figure out what the honest crap was going on.

Let me assure everyone on this point. You are all belaboring (hee, be-LABORING, that’s a good one) under a misconception concerning my sanity. I never claimed any of you were sane.

Wait . . . is that how the old cliche goes? Oh well. It sounds good to me. I merely write what appeals to the masses: sick in the head, off-color (or full color - whichever way you prefer to think of yourselves) surliness mixed in with a little of the perverse.

And speaking of “sick in the head” . . . no, I already told you. I accept all of you as who you are. As I was saying, speaking of “sick in the head,” I have an interesting story to relate.

I’m stealing this idea from Lime over at House of Lime. She took my award rules to heart and wrote a very fascinating story concerning her ten honest things and our shared name (she’s a Michelle - with TWO “L’s” - too). She talked about the time when she was seriously ill in school.

Her incident reminded me of something that happened at my high school.

In ninth grade (1990), taking shorthand/accounting/typing classes was mandatory for all students. Half the semester was dedicated to the shorthand and accounting part. Basically, the only lessons I took away from it was to write the words “with” and “the” as “withe.” That’s all I remember. Of the accounting, we studied how to fill out checks and balance our bank books. It wasn’t a class a student could really flunk.

Then we moved to the typing part.

Hot. This is the first memory I have. We moved from a pleasant air-conditioned classroom to a sweltering Gobi Desert tent filled with thirty old-fashioned typewriters. Why we didn’t just learn how to type in the cool computer room on machines that knew what century it was, I never found out.

With the click-clacks resounding in the room, our necks had muscle cricks from facing our typing books on our right. We experienced carpal tunnel syndrome from having to hold our wrists locked in the same position for 40 minutes. Sweat dribbled down our foreheads and smacked the keys to help our typing fingers. The teacher stood at the back of the classroom, sitting on the windowsill enjoying the refreshing breeze and blocking the Santa Ana winds from cooling off the rest of us. One day, it happened.

Melissa sat in the row beside me. During the period, her head kept bobbing up and down like a woozy pogo stick. Her eyes had a glazed shininess on lenses. Yet her fingers continued to type on automatic during the month’s worth of endless repetition, ignoring what the rest of her body was doing. Then . . .


She lay on the tile floor, completely out. I glanced over, my fingers STILL typing, trying to get my own mind to focus through the swelter to wonder why Melissa was allowed to have a nap time. I avow to this with one hand raised and the other pressed against my chest over my heart; NO ONE immediately comprehended what was going on. That was how heat fogged everyone was.

Finally, a student sitting in front of Melissa went to her side along with the teacher. By this time, she was slowly regaining consciousness a minute after hitting the floor. The teacher helped her to the nurse’s office.

Left alone in the heat, the students’ fingers continued typing. Click. Clack. Click.


  1. What a fabulous job you did taking me back to typing class in the pre-AC and pre-internet days. Okay, so I'm showing my age, but somehow you found worth (hence you're a good writer)in a terribly prosaic experience whose worth I only discovered later, when computers arrived and suddenly I could type better than anyone else. My only questions are: So, what happened to Michelle II? And how did the fainting spell affect Michelle I? Or is that your next installment in your Dickensian serial novel about life in the typing class sweatshop?

  2. Judith: Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    No, this isn't a serial. Just a one-shot story. Melissa (the girl who fainted in my typing class) was fine and returned the next day. The school district finally turned on the air conditioning for that room. As for Michelle II (Lime), you can read her story here.

  3. I'm beginning to think your stories are too sensational for reality. Okay, not really lol. Great post though. The only thing I remember about typing class is that there was a hot girl in it, and I wished all semester she would look my way. Needless to say, it didn't happen. Oh well.

  4. Wow you sent me on a time travel back to 1977 to senior year where we all click clacked the hour away in typing/shorthand class on old MANUAL typewriters. yikes!

  5. You sure brought me back! Kids nowadays don't have a clue about what we used to go through. My mother didn't appreciate my ambitions to be a writer, she was sure that I needed to take every class I could that might prepare me to be an office worker of some sort, typing class was one thing, I didn't mind that, every writer should type fast, but she made me take business machines. Where are those business machines now?

  6. They were noisy weren't they. So, did she make it? It's early with a long weekend ahead. Oh, and I like the full color version.
    Coach O

  7. Eric: You should have taken the initiative with the girl!

    Before class, you should have repositioned her typewriter so it faced you. Then she would have asked who moved it, and you could have lied like crazy about some perv wanting attention but you beat the crap out of him. She would have been impressed! SCORE!

    Angie L: I still hear the clacks even now. MAKE IT STOP! Oh wait, that's me typing on the keyboard. lol :-)

    Elizabeth: It was the same here. But my parents made me take computer business, which was fine except I learned all those old programming languages that aren't in use anymore. It was a wasted three years of my life.

    Coach O: She made it. And the noise was annoying, which was the reason the room was located at the end of the hall, and the one beside it was empty during typing class.

  8. There was something about old-time typewriters that was cool: they made you really stop and think about what you were writing. You didn't have the option to just erase, or cut-and-paste, or any of the other wonderful things we have today via computer. If you wrote it, it was on the paper and that was that. If you were writing creatively, you had to truly consider each word before you typed it. Of course, that was both good and bad. The thinking was good. The having to rip up your wqork and satart over if you typedt wrongly was bad :-)

  9. Suldog: Truly, the pace was slower also. With all the spelling/grammar checks we have now, we just write willy-nilly and spit out anything. Typewriters of yesteryear required a skill that many people might feel was worth keeping today.

  10. First of all, had I done that, I would probably not have ended up with my wonderful wife. Of course, since I saw that same girl at our high school reunion and she's still incredibly hot... dangit! I couldn't have done that anyway though, because I was beyond shy back then. Thankfully, military and a motorcycle have unleashed the beast, so to speak.

  11. Eric: Well then, things turned out for the best after all. Ride that hog and be happy!

  12. I resent that comment about the sanity of your readers. Just because we spend countless hours slouching and drooling over the keybord doesn't make me--um, us, crazy.

  13. Skyeblu: Just because we spend countless hours slouching and drooling over the keybord doesn't make me--um, us, crazy.

    Methinks you had a Freudian slip... :-)

  14. between your story and mine we may just prove that school is bad for your health!

  15. Lime: It's about time someone agrees with me!


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