Not My Type by
(133 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

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"...if I were still chained to a typewriter, not only would I not be writing this story (duh), I probably wouldn't be writing any damn stories at all."

Typewriters.  OK, so Tom Hanks is so obsessed with typewriters he collects them and writes a book about them.  As a fellow boomer, obviously also steeped in retro stuff (ergo my Retro stories), I, too, am supposed to love them.  I say nay, nay.

As I have indicated previously, I never learned to touch type.  That slows me down a bit, but my hunt-and-peck style is fairly efficient.  Rather, the whole process from end to end used to drive me nuts.  Anyone else have trouble just feeding the sheet in straight?  And then fiddling with it hopelessly to get it straight? Sort of like sawing off the legs of a table to keep it from rocking.  And knowing where to begin and end each page so they are all consistent?  Carbon copies were no walk in the park either, and usually involved smudges and not just post-operative hand wringing, but hand washing.   And, worst of all, corrections.  Erasers, White Out, that white tape-y stuff on a reel that always got tangled.  I swear, the greatest academic moment of my college career was when the Anthropology Department decreed that theses could be submitted on corrasable bond.  And, as a baby lawyer, I recall that decisions about whether or not to make last-minute edits in  briefs — particularly on the early pages, which would have a cascading effect on the rest of the document —  often had a substantive impact.  Try explaining that to a client — or, worse yet, a senior partner — after pulling an all-nighter.

Perhaps most importantly, if I were still chained to a typewriter, not only would I not be writing this story (duh), I probably wouldn’t be writing any damn stories at all.

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  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    “Write” you are, John! Word processing, in various forms, transformed the office first, then personal computing came home and allowed us (via the Internet) to communicate. So good riddance to computers, except I don’t know how to type an envelope. That would still be nice.

  2. Suzy says:

    Yes, John, second and third drafts were a nightmare, because you had to retype the whole thing every time. I’ve always said the whole thesis-writing experience would have been so much less unpleasant if we had had computers in college. But feeding the paper in straight? Never knew that was such a big problem.

    Trying to figure out footnotes at the bottom of the page, and how much space to leave for them, was a challenge. My mother was a genius at that, and she typed all my papers in high school, so it wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how tricky it was. Now, of course, it’s no big deal.

  3. John Zussman says:

    Your story beautifully captures the frustration of using typewriters. While reading I flashed back on correcting and editing college papers, toying around with wording so that I would only need to change one line rather than retype the whole page. Although, as I think of it, that necessity may have stimulated my editorial creativity!

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