"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Now is the time," said the typewriter

I was skimming blogs the other day and discovered a post about how the blogger received a typewritten résumé from a job applicant. I thought, “How sweet. Someone typed their résumé.”

I love typewriters.

Well the post wasn’t about typewriters at all, but about how the applicant was so lame he must not even know how to use a computer. The blogger pondered, “Why would anyone use a typewriter?”

I experienced swift and immediate pity for this person. Hadn’t he ever been exposed to the tactical joys of typewriting?

The clicking sound of the keys called to me at an early age. The doctor’s secretary typed. The school secretary typed. City hall workers typed. The 1960’s office ambiance was enticing—metal desk and files, spinny rolodex, carbon paper, and the leader of the pack…the clacking typewriter. Recalling those scenes makes me nostalgic.

Putting aside my own typewriter affections, I believe others also harbor a fondness for this machine. Think about the many journalists who enthusiastically pecked away at each top story.

Consider cabin-bound eccentric writers, isolating themselves in the woods with little more than cigarettes, booze and a sturdy typewriter.

What about Mary Richards (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)? She was so hip at her city job, composing each newscast on her typewriter. She probably wouldn’t have thrown her hat in the air if she had to use a computer.

And columnists. Think Andy Rooney. For years an old typewriter sat behind him on the set of 60 Minutes. His computer doesn't evoke any particular feelings.

Students have been double-spacing and whiting-out for years. Even to those of us who now use computers, seeing or hearing a typewriter stirs many a college memory. Do kids in *keyboarding* class warm up by typing, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of his country?” Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

Mysteries have been solved by deciphering the “hand-writing” of a typewritten note. A detective would declare, “Clyde is the murderer! I know because his typewriter drops its f’s. See here? The f’s in this letter match those in the ransom note. It’s elementary.”

If you want to hear squeals of curiosity from your kids, introduce them to a typewriter. Teach them not to type directly on the platen and to type rhythmically so the keys don’t jumble. Tell them that using a typewriter takes responsibility—and that you trust them. They will be so thrilled with this new discovery and proud to be trusted to use it.

There are many pro-typewriter bloggers who post actual type-written copy. Some of these people are also busy buying and reconditioning typewriters. Check out backspacetypewriters.blogspot.com, clickthing.blogspot.com and typeclack.blogspot.com.

See, I am not the only one.

That anti-typewriter blogger didn’t realize how typewriting is much more than putting words to paper. How naive.

Admittedly, a computer and printer do that job more efficiently and the job applicant probably should have conformed for the sake of employment.

But where is the romance?

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