Monday afternoon, city editor Karen Peterson shared with me a typo for the ages: A photo “cutline” (caption) composed by one of our colleagues that referred to the “Hefefrsonm Rural Fire Protection District.”
In case you didn’t know this, that first word was supposed to be “Jefferson.”
After we had a good laugh, we embarked on a brief discussion of typing in general, starting with editor Hasso Hering’s distinctive hunt-and-peck style.
“He’s actually pretty fast with it,” I said, having seen him bang out lots and lots of copy during our 21 years together at the DH.
“Have you ever taken a words-per-minute test? How fast do you type?” I then asked her.
“Oh gosh, I don’t know,” she said. “And it’s been so long since I’ve taken one I can’t even remember if the number I was going to tell you I scored is even possible.”
“Well,” I said, “Henneke found some online typing test a couple years ago and posted it on his blog. He got 61, and I got 74.”
A bit of an uncertain look came over Karen’s face.
“So probably the 150 I was going to tell you I thought I scored isn’t possible?”
“Well, I know people have told me they typed like 120. But if I’m at 74 — and I feel like I type pretty stinkin’ fast — I wouldn’t really think someone could be twice as fast as I am. But let’s ask the Renaissance Man over there.
“Hey Les, what’s a really good typing speed?” I yelled over to our sports editor, Mr. Gehrett.
“Oh, I think anything around 100 is really flying,” he said, and since he is the RM, after all, I accepted that as fact.
One last note about typing: Basic Typing was the only class I ever withdrew from at Oregon State.
I enrolled in the course as a junior when it became apparent I was going to seek a career in the newspaper business and figured that, apparently unlike Hasso, I should learn to actually type using all of my fingers and without looking at the typewriter keys — yes, in the early 1980s, people still used typewriters.
Most of my classmates were sorority girls who could already type and viewed the course as an easy A; myself, I was taking it pass/fail.
After four weeks, the curve driven impossibly high by those preppily-dressed girls — my usual wardrobe, btw, consisted of jeans, hiking boots, flannel shirt and Army jacket, occasionally accented by one of those Henry Fonda hats I still like — I realized I was not going to pass. So, feeling I had at least acquired the foundation for my future typing needs, I did the only thing I could think of: On the last possible day to pull out without academic penalty, I prepared my withdrawal paperwork.
The teacher, a grouchy old lady (who was probably younger than I am now) was indignant. She seemed to take it very personally that I would deem any further instruction from her not necessary enough to risk a humiliating grade — a “fail” in Basic Typing — on my already sort of embarrassing transcript.
But I just let her belittle me until she ran out of steam, knowing she’d have to eventually sign the withdrawal sheet, and she did.
And typing teacher, whatever your name was, if you are out there somewhere reading this blog, I hope it doesn’t bother you too much that I managed to actually graduate from OSU and get a job.