In 2015, I wrote a short story called “Claudia’s Corporate Calling,” in which I challenged myself to write a character that is nearly the complete opposite of me. It is a piece that is meant to be Silly, Humorous, and Fun.
I coasted through high school with confidence, unaffected by the self-conscious beast or the frenetic of fashion. You can imagine how much freedom I enjoyed in my secondary academic years. No suffering from bellyaches or trembling hands when presenting my history report to a class half asleep and half strangled with boredom. Really, did students give a fig about fleas infected with bubonic plague, flinging themselves upon unsuspecting, scruffy alley cats? I think not. So, I strolled with ease through the school’s huge halls. I possessed a plethora of friends who wished to adopt my indifference.
Boys were inconsequential. Their pathetic courting methods were comical. Who had time to get tangled up in dating when you strived to beat the stuffing out of your field hockey and volleyball opponents? When you had a superb classic novel to dive into in your literature class? Dream world yielded no authentic competition.
But, now in 1987, I had graduated and proceeded to prepare my life for a lucrative career. I figured my two typing classes in tenth and eleventh grades would propel me to the top of the business world. I only had to attend the neighboring business college for two years to perfect it. My parents were avid supporters of my business education path. They saw me as the next president of the prestigious company, BEST.
In the fall, I started my first semester at the local business college. It had a name that oozed success—Bark Business College. Its double “B” title gave it a level of class.
The school required a dress code. No jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, tank tops, or mini skirts. I had no problem skipping the mini skirts and tank tops, but I struggled with the omission of jeans and sneakers. I lived in those things. This meant that I had to purchase new clothes, such as dress slacks, dress shoes, or boat shoes, blazers, and skirts. And not just any skirts or slacks. They needed to have the business look and be the correct colors: navy blue or black. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t have to wrestle with ties, but if I did, the school recommended power red, executive blue, or assertive yellow.
I ambled into the Typing I classroom and took a seat toward the front so I didn’t miss anything. Too easily, one could get discombobulated back there, swallowed up in the recesses of the darkened, cobwebbed corners and one’s own wandering mind.
Other students trickled in, claiming desks left and right. The desks all looked the same, but the typewriters varied in color. They were periwinkle gray, basic black, and classic white. The one on my desk was basic black, and that worked for me.
The teacher glided into the room, her features resembling Glenda the Good Witch of the North from The Wizard of Oz. I sighed in relief. How fortuitous I was to have a good witch for my teacher instead of a bad one.
She stood next to her desk as a smile spread across her pink face. “Hello, everyone. This is Typing I, and I’m Ms. Beasley.” She scanned the room, making sure each of us locked eyes with her big blue ones. “We will be doing some timed typing tests to warm up. You should have gotten this book when you registered for the class. Please open it to page five.”
We all fumbled for our books. I set mine on my desk and flipped it open to the correct page. It sat up vertically, in the shape of a triangle, the spiral on top. I skimmed the one-minute timing test showing simple words in a simple paragraph. I already saw myself blazing through this test, leaving smoke rising from the keys.
“Ready? Go!” Ms. Beasley squeaked.
Everyone feverishly pounded on their typewriters—the whole room erupting in a symphony of clicks and clacks with intermittent dings. The constant humming of the machines enhanced my focus on the elementary school-level language in front of me. My fingers went off on their own, letting loose, bouncing over the keys with delight.
A bell rang, and we all immediately stopped. I began calculating my time as instructed. Hot salsa! The results were seventy-five words per minute, with the errors subtracted. That had to be a record. I was a killer typist already. I could only go up from here.
My second class was Shorthand I, and I wanted my writing to soar across the page just as nimbly as my fingers tapped on the keys of the typewriter.
I sat down in one of the desks toward the front. People filtered in, sitting down in various spots, some even daring to set themselves down in the shadowy abyss of the back of the classroom. They had both courage and super sonic hearing.
The teacher walked into the classroom, resembling nobody but herself. She gave us a friendly, buck-toothed grin. “Hello, class. I’m Ms. Betz. This is Shorthand I, and we will be working on learning the short cut method of writing so that you can take dictation quickly from your future bosses,” she explained, bobbing her head like that famous sipping bird from decades ago.
We jumped right in, studying the strange cryptic marks in our books. No worries, though. I could still see familiar letters in there. By next week, I’d have this all memorized. My memory was phenomenal.
My last class was English. A few folks were already in their chairs when I swept into the room. It was all good because they graciously left me the desk in the front row all the way to the left. My view of the large chalkboard was unobstructed. Written on it in pretty curly letters was the teacher’s name: Ms. Farnsworth. The “F” in her name flowed on the board with such elegance and ornamentation that you could barely take your eyes off of it. It must have been a regulation that all English teachers were required to have exquisite handwriting. I would never be an English teacher. But what did that matter? I was going to be the fastest typist ever.
Ms. Farnsworth appeared at the door to the room and grinned, wearing large owl glasses an inch thick. She sashayed to the board and pointed to her name. “Hello, class. I’m Ms. Farnsworth, and this is English I. We will be learning all of the basic and not so basic grammar rules to eventually write excellent business letters. Let’s get started by opening our language arts book to page ten.”
We all did as she said, and my eyes glazed over staring at the information on the page. Nothing bored me more than learning for the fifth time, subjects and predicates.
This class passed by about as fast as a turtle crawling across glue. This was all review, and I was happy when it was time to pack up and exit the room.
My first day went exceptionally well. In two years, I’d graduate and be on the rapid path to working as President at BEST.
* * *
The semester sailed by, and I glided on the waves with superior skill. The subsequent semester flew by, and I streamed through the clouds with style and grace. Soon, the final year sped by, and I, too, rode that track with excellence.
Then came graduation day where I paraded to the podium for my fantastic degree, turning toward the enthusiastic crowd, an ocean of smiles. And all those smiles were for me. They knew I was to be the next President of BEST. I had so much potential.
When it was time for my interview with BEST, the interviewer was awed by my typing prowess, but said she needed something more than what I possessed. There wasn’t anything I lacked for the position, so I traveled to the President’s office and conversed with him. He was surprised to see me, but when I dazzled him with my pristine academic achievements and businesslike acumen, he hired me on the spot.
Three years later, I’d taken the President’s job and fulfilled my destiny. I had become the perfect President of BEST.
Do you remember the days of typing on an electric typewriter?