Friday Frivolity: Typing I

In typing class at Walter French Jr. High, I was masterful at a;sldkfjgh. I think that’s the first set of keys we practiced. If you got your fingers located on the keyboard correctly, those keys were a sure bet.

I did just fine until the teacher reminded me that accuracy was good but he hoped I could make more than one pass across that row in less than a minute. Of course, he also reminded me of the mandate: “Without looking”. At that stage of my life, looking at what I was doing was essential. That’s precisely why my parents cancelled accordion lessons. My hands were too far separated for me to coordinate their use. Not to mention the drawback that I was so short that peering over the bellows to see my fingers was virtually impossible.

In typing class, even with a bent piece of cardboard perched strategically over the keys, I still gazed downward—somehow hoping to visualize what I could not actually see. The girl next to me once asked if my bowed head meant I was praying. I was flabbergasted. How could she manage to even look toward me, much less speak coherently, while her fingers clicked merrily across the keyboard. I would have said ‘ha ha” but that would certainly have gotten my fingers out of order…even though both the h and the a are on the middle row.

Unless “mastery” is inclusive of some wpm minimum, I eventually mastered the middle row of keys. The next row up and down were a slight bit more difficult. However, those keys were still within range of my unsighted fingers. Within range…sorta. You see, in the 8th grade my fingers were considerably shorter than now. In order to get my pinkie onto the z key, the in-twisting of my elbow forced a contortion of my body which most certainly slowed my wpm. And with the very limited space for muscles in either pinkie, depressing the Shift key was…well, just that…depressing.

I was going to petition the Student Counsel to request that the school purchase electric typewriters — with ‘powered shift keys’. Never did get that accomplished. Such appeals had to be typed.

Eventually typing lessons advanced to the numbers. I couldn’t find very many, if any, of the “number” keys without looking. Now the vision impeding cardboard comes even more into play. Not only does it hide the keys, it also requires me to slump over and down to reach the top row without setting off the alarm (I know the cardboard had a motion sensor alarm somewhere. The teacher always knew when mine moved).

To compound my top row frustrations, those keys also had special symbols incorporated into them. To utilize any one of those symbols required depression of the shift key along with striking the appropriate number. Except for the open and close parens, can anyone explain the logic for the order of the symbols along the top row or, for that matter, why is any symbol associated with a particular number? To this day, I still have to look to ensure striking the proper key for many of the symbols.

I realize that most of this information regarding nostalgic, manual, typewriters is common knowledge to anyone who took a Typing class back in the day. However, if you happened to be in my class (not class as in grade achieved) I want you to know that my movements were not a practice session for Arthur Murray New-age dance class. Of course, with the Mash Potato, Swim, Shake and Watusi, “Typing” just might have caught on.


Advertising—the art of inspiring a person to purchase. Actually I think it’s closer to the science of arresting the human mind long enough to liberate money from their pockets.

The mall is an excellent place to observe such advertising. Sue and I have been exercising by walking the mall. Okay, so I walk. Sue’s pace is closer to a jog to keep up with my long strides. Anyway, while walking around the mall I often marvel at the challenges facing retailers to persuade consumers to part with their money. Often for things which defy logic. Though many would testify that more than a few of my purchases defy their logic, a storefront window stopped me in mid stride…not with a temptation to purchase, but in stupendous amazement.

When we walked by Abernathy and Flinch the other day, I spotted the ultimate challenge of marketing. Right there, in full view of every passerby was a 6-foot stretch of denims. No, not stretch denims…a 6-foot table faded-blue jeans that truly stretched my imagination.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. These jeans should have been relegated to a basement markdown table at Sleaze and Squalor Second Hand Store. They weren’t used. They were abused. Tattered, threadbare holes in every pair.

Last summer, I couldn’t sell better looking jeans at our rummage sale. I would have been embarrassed to sell stuff like that. I’ve got pride. Clothing that bad would be put in plain brown wrapper even before depositing them in the trash barrel. And how did the retailer choose to market these ragged britches?

Nothing of note. No sign. No flashing blue light special. No BOGO ploy. Not even a placard with bright red lettering: “Roll Back Price” (though “skid down pricing” would seem relevant). Just piles of the blue rags on a table in the window.

I remember when you might get a few bucks knocked of the purchase price if you found a minor flaw in something you wanted.

Excuse me…I found this sweater over there. It’s exactly what I want and it’s the last one in my size. But, see here…there’s a bit of a snag.

Oh, let me see that. Why, yes, indeed there is. I’m terribly sorry.

Oh, that’s okay. I’d be willing to put up with the little bitty ol’ snag, if you drop the price. …say $5.

Back then, the retailer would have dropped the sweater in the scrap heap. I suspect today he would reply:  Drop the price? If we’d have noticed the snag we’d have raised the price five bucks.

Premiums for flaws. That seems to be the rave of today. And I’ll tell you something else about today’s drastic changes from yesterday’s styling. Those ragged jeans attract a clientele dressed similarly. Yeah, I know that’s to be expected. I don’t generally put on a three piece suit to shop for coveralls. So, it doesn’t overstretch my imagination to visualize teen-aged ragamuffins pawing through tattered britches.

However, in my teen years, had I meandered into a store dressed in a raggedy shirt, frayed pants, and sloppy, floppy shoes, store security would have been on red alert. Today, when such a teen is spotted, a sales clerk swims in like a shark smelling a quick kill.

And how do they entice these kids to purchase. What sales pitch could possibly augment the product?   Maybe something like; “Aren’t those just fabulous. I mean…ya know…like each one is a uniquely fashioned work of art. See…look here on the label…each one signed and numbered…

I’ll bet there’s no “Inspected by” tag in the pocket though.