Monday 9 September 2013

Lost On A Laptop

I'm trying to get used to the new computer.  EVERYTHING IS IN THE WRONG PLACE!!!

I've wanted to get rid of my old desk model, but I couldn't justify it when it was working just fine. Sure the ports were all loose and it took me forever to connect my camera to it to download pictures.  It didn't have WIFI and I had to use a cable to connect it to my internet hub, but it was really more about wanting to get rid of all the cables and the big desk in the library.

Then, the monitor died.  A friend gave me her old one.  It died and another friend gave me one.  That one bit the bullet and my sister  gave me one.  When the last freebie monitor crashed, I headed right into the nearest store and asked for their cheapest laptop.

All would be heaven if I hadn't spent the last week thinking I was getting a capital letter and getting something like this instead ///////////// /////.  Or, somehow changing the language setting to Spanish and the font size to miniature.

It's all making me remember those first awful days of my new job as head secretary at a community college in 1969.  I had marched out of high school at the end of grade 12 and declared any further education as irrelevant in the 'new world'.  Apparently, my dad thought having an income was relevant, even for a seventeen year old drop out.

Luckily, he knew the head of the local community college and thought I could get a job there.  Dad asked if I could type and I assured him I could.  I'd taken an entire semester of typing in grade nine. That would be the extent of my secretarial training.

I got all dressed up and went for my interview.  Dad's friend wasn't there.  I'd soon learn that he was very rarely there (he was completely occupied with raising prize chickens) and a big part of my job would be covering up for his absence.

A secretary took me into a a cubicle and handed me a timed typing test to do.  Ooooh, I'll have to type really fast!  I look down at the typewriter and there are no letters on the keys!  Am I supposed to have memorised the keyboard?  I started typing like a maniac and the end result was - gueienn  soiygg ialliil sa, etc.  I have one piece of paper and it's covered in gobbledygook.  I'm dying of embarrassment and sat there trying to screw up the courage to walk out and tell the interviewer that I can't type.  No one came looking for me and I couldn't live in that cubicle forever, so I went looking for someone to hand my piece of gibberish covered paper to.  There was only one girl in the office and she told me the interviewer had gone home for the day.  I walked out with the test crumpled up in my hand.

I got the job!  Yay.  Dad is happy and I'm happy because I'm going to have cool office things to play with.  If only I had known how to use them!

I loved my high tech typewriter. ~

I worked for 15 young, male instructors and one of them was kind enough to show me how to change this thing. See, it's a ball instead of keys! ~

The first morning was going really well until one of the instructors handed me a test he wanted to give his class that day.  He wanted me to type it out on mimeograph paper and make copies for him.  Like I know how to run a mimeopgraph machine!  What was he thinking?  I told him I was kind of busy and he said I could just type it out and he would run the copies.  Whew!  I pecked away at the keys, had that baby done in under an hour and was really pleased with myself until he brought it back saying there was nothing on it.  No one told me there was a piece of tissue paper that had to be removed from between the carbon paper and the front page!  Luckily, he changed his mind about giving a test that day and all the instructors agreed to hand test material to me a full day ahead.

Exams would need at least a couple of days notice because I would have to use the collator to get all those pages in order.  My first experience with that monster was terrifying! ~

Completely unaware that there were speed settings on that baby, I had sheets of paper flying all over the room and as fast as I ran to get them more were shooting out.  I can completely identify with Lucy when the production line at the candy factory went crazy on her!

I nearly lost a hand to the electric stapler. ~

Of the fifteen instructors on my campus, only one was old.  I mean, he had to be a least forty and he was the head of the secretarial programme. One day he called me into his office and asked me to take a letter.  I don't know shorthand!   This guy starts yakking away and, quick thinker that I am, I decide to write down the first and last letter of every word.  A sentence like, "I'm responding to your request for a course outline." becomes "im rg to yr rt fr a ce oe".  If you ever decide to use my system, I can assure you that sentence will mean nothing at all to you when you go to type it out.  I couldn't very well go back and ask him to repeat it all, so I made it up to the best of my recollection and he signed it without ever looking at it. Whew, another hurdle cleared.!  I told him I was too busy to take letters and he used a Dictaphone after that.

There was one woman instructor and she did tell me I was completely incompetent.  That really hurt my feelings and and a couple of the young fellows took me out to lunch at a ritzy steak house to make me feel better.  Not everyone in the world is insensitive, thankfully!

I think the worst moment on the job was when I had to go to the main campus for a day and fill in for the switchboard operator.  ~ 

The headset was cool and made me feel very professional.  I answered a call and patched the guy through. I answered the next call and that caller wanted the same office.  The third caller, who sounded a lot like the first two, said, "Honey, do you have any idea what you are doing?"  Huh?  "You have cut me off twice.  Do not touch a single thing!"  And then, lovely man that he was, he walked me through how to use a switchboard.

Because all my stories have happy endings, you know the job worked out just fine.  My boss found out how very busy I was and hired a graduate of the college secretarial course to work as my assistant. She was very grateful to have such a wonderful supervisor and I let her do all the secretarial stuff. That gave me plenty of time to do the interviewing and hiring of new instructors and my boss didn't have to leave his prize chickens to do it.

I left that job with a wonderful sense of how understanding and kind people can be when you are learning new skills.  With the exception of the one woman on staff, I was treated very kindly and someone took me for lunch almost every day to make sure I had a break from all that office stress.

Life can be very good when you are 17, blond, 4' 11, have measurements of 36  24  34 and favour wearing this kind of outfit! ~

Yeah, I know that skirt is kind of long.  I liked to dress conservatively for the office.

So, bear with me and I'll get the hang of this new computer.  

Anyone want to take me for lunch?


  1. Now that was hilarious! Great post Maureen.

  2. Hahahahahaha! And they thought you were incompetent? Lol! Too funny Maureen...gosh your life stories are hysterically funny! xo wendy

  3. I'm telling and me don't mix!

  4. You are slaying me. First job memories are fun. Now anyway. I cannot find my 4000 images, easily, on my new laptop. It is a puzzle every time I write a post. xo, olive

  5. I totally can relate. My computer died a month ago. I still don't have a new one. Have used my old one, a borrowed one, etc. and like your experience, nothing works right! I'm about to pull out my hair! But, I'll hang in there--you do, too!

  6. Oh Maureen, I really laughed out loud at this story of your first job. So funny. I'm glad you overcame everything and learned how to work in an office and type. I took a 1 year secretarial course and failed miserably. I learned to type, tried to learn shorthand and accounting, and blew it. But, I got a job at Eaton's Department Store in the collections department where I didn't need any of those skills. Ha! I am thankful I did learn how to type though as it sure came in handy for blogging! I'm sure you'll get the hang of your new computer soon. Hugs, Pam

  7. Maureen- You and I have way more in common than you can imagine. LOL I wore the first mini-skirt in our whole area and the whole of the little town was talking. I LOVED this story and it is similar to my own! lol xo Diana

  8. I love this post, steak dinners and assistants go you. Oh I can imagine you having the male instructors fighting to take you out for lunch while the crabby old woman is cursing the young, hot (incompetent) chick! Bahahaha

  9. Great story, still to this day you surprise me with events of your life, this is a prime example. I can only picture some old crabby woman wanting to get rid of the cute 17 year old who is taking all the attention away from everyone. Funny story. Good luck with your laptop.

  10. Maurene ... you are just too funny. You made my day. What a great learning experience. Good luck with your new laptop.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  11. I remember dropping you off for work in the job you were't trained for and going on the my job - bookkeeping for a mortgage company - while I was actually trained to do your job. Life certainly snakes around in ways we never fully understand. I believe your typing skills have improved a great deal.

  12. OMG!! You are hilarious!! I laughed until I had tears in my eyes! I love that you bluffed your way through that job and got an assistant!!! Oh you are such a treasure!

  13. Wow!! Sooo funny! This post really takes me back to my first clerk job when a computer meant a whole room of huge montrosities that spit out those punched out coded card thingies. Sooo hard to believe we used to type on carbon copies. Great post... made me laugh out loud!!!

  14. I thought your post was so cute! I can remember jobs that I had a long time ago..where I had to learn really quickly! =)

    Best of luck with your new computer!

  15. I'm glad you took BJ's advice and stopped by. I've enjoyed your post while finishing my morning coffee. I encountered that selectric typewriter when I worked at the Pentagon. The secretary had one which was somehow hooked up to a contraption that allowed her to tape what she was typing and make corrections at any time. Amazing machine for the mid-70s.


  16. Hahahaha! Great post!! I remember those IBM Selectrics with the impressive ball. My Dad got me a portable electric typewriter when I was 13 and it was a big huge deal. I LOVED that thing. And when I took typing in grade 9, the keys were blank too, just like your typewriter. I never did quite get that keyboard memorized.

    Ah, the good old days! I never learned shorthand. I guess that's well dead now!!

  17. Lol brilliant Maureen, I loved reading all your trials and tribulations. I actually did shorthand and typing at school and went to work for my Dad for six weeks one summer. Unfortunately I was never any good at reading my shorthand back and had to keep going to see my Dad and asking him to fill in the missing words !
    Good luck with the new keyboard.