Typing Lessons

My mother's skills as a legal secretary honed in her dexterous appendages the ability to type a blistering 172 words per minute. Thanks to this gift she was happy to type my book reports until I was 12, at which point she seated me in front of her IBM Selectric and coached my sausage fingers through their own delicate dance on the QWERTY keyboard.

I've been typing ever since. Book reports. Sponsorship solicitations. Job applications. Monthly columns. Magazine features. Rider contracts. Ad copy. Catalog text. Telexes. Faxes. E-mails. Freelance flotsam. Letters of resignation. Business plans. Blogs. Comments. Tweets…

When will it end?

When potential employers insisted on testing mom's competence, she assessed the action of every strange keyboard with the same two lines:

"The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog"

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party"

Good practice and good advice.

I inherited my mom's obsession with touch and stroke—and, later, with the advent of word processing, character repeat and duration—but sadly, none of her velocity. I've got my base keys covered, but more often than not the words come in a drip, never a torrent.

One of mom's typing lessons I'll never forget might be the most forgettable thing anyone could remember:

"The longest word in the English language that can be typed on a QWERTY keyboard with one hand is S-T-E-W-A-R-D-E-S-S-E-S."

And she was right. V-A-G-E-S and A-S-S-W-A-R-T-S add up to 13, but they're two words.


No comments: