Friday, December 09, 2005

Sometime Luddite

1. Sometimes I like to write in pencil. And I am an anal-retentive FREAK about my pencils. They must be super-super-super sharp. How many geeks do you know who have their own electric pencil sharpener at home? My favorite? Berol Black Warriors followed by good old Dixon Ticonderogas. Am I a pencil purist or merely stuck in 4th grade?

2. Sometimes I miss my old electric typewriter that I had in college. It was my sister's when *she* went to college...8 years before I did. Sometimes I yearn for that authoritative thud-thud-thud sound it made. I know, everyone else's typewriter went "clackety-clack." Mine thudded. What can you do? When I came to New York in 1988 the only jobs out there for young college graduates with Liberal arts degrees were secretarial positions. And you still had to take a typing test. On a typewriter. By the time I was hired full-time by that ad agency, I could do close to 100wpm on those old Olivettis.

3. Sometimes when I am working in the office I will add up numbers manually -- in pencil, of course. The way I learned how to do it in grade school.

4. Sometimes I count on my fingers. But when I am doing it I always hold my hands flat and do it by flexing my fingers slightly so no one will look at me and think I'm dumb.

5. I can make change in my head. The girl at McDonald's last week told me my lunch cost was 5.03 (or something like that). She saw me pull out a ten-dollar bill and entered that amount into her register. When I tried to give her a nickel so I could get back a five-dollar bill and a couple of pennies instead of a wad of singles and a pound of change, she panicked. She had already rung the ten. Without the register to tell her what to give back to me, she didn't know what to do. She couldn't make change in her head. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "It's easier for me to just do it this way." (Customer service in the new millennium folks!)

6. I do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in pen. Not because I am smart. But rather because I am a showoff. My friend does it in pencil every week. I think there's a tiny character study in that. He would rather erase all evidence of his mistakes. I have no problem overwriting a bad guess with the right answer.


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