Thursday, September 22, 2011

The number keys

My father insisted that I learn how to touch type (I'm doing it now!) and I even took a typing class one summer.  It is a good skill to have though I still think his insistence on it was misplaced. He tells a great story about how he got a job as a clerk because he was the only one typing who wasn't looking at his hands, even though he wasn't the fastest typist.  What's left out of this story is that my dad's handwriting was so terrible in high school that his teachers made him take a typing class. Even then, I think the feminization of clerical work was well underway.  And the clerk's job? It was in the Army!  My dad never actually worked a clerical job in civilian life.  So, I remember once telling him that if I were a really good typist it would set me up for jobs being... a really good typist, and that wasn't what I had in mind.  Who knew we'd live in a world where everyone does their own typing?

One of my first summer jobs was in my mom's office. I didn't have much to do but one task was typing labels.  I spent a lot of years doing menial clerical work (no fast food jobs for me) and a big part of that was typing labels, often address labels.  And, while I did know how to touch type (more or less), I never mastered the number keys. Talk about tedious-- and I had to look at the keys all time.

I was thinking of this while I am engaged in a tedious clerical task of my own making at work that involves using the "-" key and the "ctrl" key--two keys I have never mastered.  No wonder this is taking so long...

Grateful for: learing to touch type.


  1. I remember my first typing classes in middle school... we always had to type "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country." It's funny, I practiced that line so much that now it's the fastest line I can type. :)

  2. My Mom made me sign up for typing class at the community college when I was in High School because I didn't have room for it in my regular schedule. I remember thinking how crazy it was for her to insist I know how to type when I just knew I would have a "secretary" when I grew up. And now, even though I do have an administrative assistant I still do most of my own typing, so thank goodness she did insist!

    But like you, I have never quite mastered the number keys, I have to look at them every single time.

  3. You provide an interesting generational perspective. My grandfather started out as a secretary, and was a very good typist. His son--my father--never learned how to type, and is now regretting it somewhat as it is getting harder and harder to find administrative assistants willing and able to type his technical documents. My grandmother gave me an electric typewriter when I was in sixth grade and encouraged me to learn to type, perhaps because of her husband's experience (I'm male). That skill turned out to be invaluable. I can do the number keys not by site only on numeric keypad, and only because for my Ph.D. thesis I had to type in about 10,000 numbers.

  4. Great stories and perspective! Now, everyone needs to know how to type or "keyboard." I wonder if they are teaching touch typing in grade school? Not that handwriting will ever be obsolete, but it's used less and less and cursive (never a fave) has nearly gone by the way. I say printers unite! :)


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