My New Underwood-Olivetti

I bought a typewriter this weekend, an Underwood-Olivetti from the 1960’s. It is in working order, no sticky keys, good hard letter strikes, and it even has a good ribbon. It even looks perfect, and it’s going to stay that way.

I can’t type on the damn thing. All those months of high school typing class are wasted. Hitting the keys on the IBM Selectric as the teacher droned out, “FFF, FAD, FFFAD.” Are, and have been for nothing. I spend a good deal of my time sitting in front of a keyboard and I cannot type.

I’m the Wizard of Word, I can format like nobody’s business, heck I even know what the Review functions do. If you send me a document, I’ll probably reformat it before I read it. I’m picky that way.

Almost nothing I’ve written, or read, has been printed for years, it’s all on hard drives, and thumb drives, and somewhere up in the clouds. I can send you anything you want, anyway you want it, attachments? shared docs? .rtf? PDF?  No problem. Just don’t ask me to snail mail it to you. I wouldn’t know where to start.

I used to know how to write a business letter, all the girls did, we took business classes that really weren’t about business at all. We were taught how to type, use an adding machine, and to take shorthand. This was to prepare us for the world of work. Those poor business teachers could never imagine just how quickly all of that would be obsolete.

In my case, it was my very first real job. At 19, I was a sales rep for one of the Bells, (remember phone companies?), I started out with a secretary that worked with several reps, she did all the typing. Then a monitor the size of a VW Beetle was put on my desk, and everything changed. I still had a secretary, but she didn’t type anymore, she entered. We had both been lied to.

I left that job before my secretary did, but everybody knew she didn’t have long. Technology progressed from there, along with my screen time. My environments changed, I went from big glass buildings, to small cubbies carved out to make room for the “computer stuff”, to nothing. Now, my business is contained in a device roughly the same size as the nifty leather bound notebook I used on my first job. I sit at my kitchen counter.

If my business classes were designed to keep me in a subservient role in business, and I have no doubt they were, then eliminating those skills has put me all the way back to the kitchen.

Funny how that worked out.

Anybody want to buy a typewriter?




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