Plenty of pounding, but hunting and pecking aren’t necessary


Today’s post started out on another topic.

Gears were shifted, however, and I changed my mind after someone at the nearest desk commented on my typing skills. It seems I hammer away on the keyboard. Judge for yourself.

This should come as no surprise. After all, I’m old.

How old am I? (And if you know from who I borrowed this bit, you’re probably at least as old as I am. Here’s a hint: Click the link and go to 2:43 on the video)

old typewriterI’m so old that I learned to type on one of these.

It was in 1983-84, my junior year at Chariton High School, in the third-floor classroom of Barb Vogel, my typing teacher. As I recall, the good students in the class got to type on the limited selection of fancy IBM Selectrics. I wasn’t one of the good students, so I learned to pound away on what was a dinosaur even 30 years ago.

In fact, I was in the class only because my mother insisted that I take it. I remained in it only because my mother made me keep going back. It helped that I had a bit of a crush on Karen Sivill, the brunette who sat next to me — when she wasn’t typing on one of the Selectrics at the front of the class because she was one of the good students.

There I was. For two entire semesters. It’s debatable who felt more tortured: Me, Mrs. Vogel or Karen — but that may be another topic for another day.

As I recall, the fastest speed I ever achieved on that boxy, old manual typewriter — while keeping my typos to an acceptable level — was about 30 words per minute. My form was awful and I had to keep watching my hands to make sure I hit the right keys. My guess is the experience of watching and trying to teach me was enough to make Mrs. Vogel fantasize about changing careers.

But at least I did learn to type with all of my fingers.This, I would discover a few years later, put me in a different league than some of my newspaper colleagues even if Abe Winter, the sports editor during my years at the Bismark Tribune, could still type faster with two fingers than I can with all 10 of mine. Still, the fact that I’m not a two-fingered typist is why I’ve always been grateful to my mom for making me take a year of typing in high school.

testTouch typing is what they call it when you use all of your fingers and keep them on the home —  A, S, D, F and J, K, L, and colon/semicolon — keys on the typical QWERTY keyboard. I still use this method to type, but I’ve never become very fast even after typing thousands of news stories through the years.

Before anyone laughs too loudly at me, in a weak attempt to make this blog more interactive, I invite everyone who reads this to take the typing test at the above link and then post your score in the comments. I’m sure most of you will top my not-so-impressive 53 wpm.

A graceful speed demon on the keyboard I never will be. But if you need someone whose pounding sounds like clumsy and heavy-footed tap dancing, then I’m just the man for the job. Much to the chagrin of — in no particular order — my mother, Mrs. Vogel and everyone who has worked at the desks nearest to mine over the past 25 years.