Sunday, 3 May 2009
Before the PC
I find that nowadays office-people stay back longer at work than say, in the late 70's to 80's despite having so-called productivity tools like the PC, or blackberrys or cell-phones to help them in the efficiency department. Back then, when we needed to have a letter written, we drafted one in longhand (umm for younger readers, that means we wrote it out on paper) or dictated it to a stenographer or a secretary who would take it down in shorthand (which is symbolic form of writing used for fast recording of what's being said). These are later typed out on a typewriter by a typist, or by the stenographer /secretary herself.
Those days we did not have the luxury of frequent edits and re-edits, it was quite impossible on the typewriter anyway. So you'd better get your draft perfect the first time lest, if you were very junior and the typist an aging, disgruntled deadwood, you suffer the pain of getting an earful from her. Yes, we tended to get things right the first time; we spent little to no time embellishing the work but we did have to check thoroughly for typos, if only for a chance to get back at the old bag, hah! Nevertheless, we got to go home before sunset, take the kids to the play-ground, cook dinner if we were so inclined, watch tv with the other half and then go to bed.
Now most office-people prepare their own documents on the PC, they spend endless time correcting or re-arranging the contents, they write their own e-mails, or organise their own files and whatever else. And they go home late, and the children wait up for them, and they have a hurried dinner and they fall asleep in front of the tv (sigh).
And so the position of "typist" and her tool of trade, the typewriter, is now extinct - dead as a dodo. Typing is no longer a job classification but an essential job skill, a living skill even. For those who remember the typewriter, hope you'll enjoy this classic from Jerry Lewis.
If you have forgotten, "tings" on the typewriter warns the typist of an impending end-of-line and she needs to feed in another line by pushing the carriage back to the beginning of the line.