Mom and Tag - Olivia Newport

Photo by Larry Mohr

Remember the days when bosses dictated and secretaries typed?

When  I was 16 and registering for the coming fall high school classes, all college prep, my mother suggested I should learn to type. Well, not to be disrepectful to her, a secretary, but I said I wasn’t going to be a secretary. So why should I learn to type? Typing was not college prep. She gave me a firm look and said,

“Take the typing class.”

Something about her Mama-knows-best expression sealed the deal. I compromised by taking a one-semester class, rather than signing up for the two-year sequence. I was typing 100 words a minute by finals week.

In the second semester of that junior year, I had an after-school office job while my friends spent their weekends roller-skating orders around at the drive-in. By the summer, I was typing in a law office. I typed in a Manhattan engineering firm for two summers during college. I typed professors’ manuscripts in college. I typed transcriptions of interviews with people coming out of cults for a sociology professor. I made a small killing typing papers for desperate students to whom it had never occurred to learn to type. (Or whose mothers had never given them this great advice.)

And somewhere along the way, it dawned on me that if I wanted to be a writer, learning to type was probably a good idea. Duh.