Celebrating the typewriter!
On Labour Day, peasant farmers remembered their machetes and hoes, fishermen remembered their boats and nets and while journalists remembered their pens and cameras.
Pastors held their Bibles in high esteem and commercial drivers appreciated their vehicles. Masons raised their trowels, electricians celebrated their screwdrivers and tailors blessed their sewing machines.
So I asked myself: what symbol of my life’s work can I recollect and celebrate on Labour Day? The answer came swiftly—the typewriter!
There used to be junior officers in every office called “typists”, which was a basic-entry post for the good old middle school leavers who also had a certificate in typewriting.
When I obtained my typewriting certificate from the Government Secretary School and immediately secured a job in the civil service as a typist at the age of 17, the typewriter became my daily working tool.
A long time before the advent of the computer, the typewriter was the machine that ensured that thousands of people were employed.
At age 17 when I was employed as a typist, the chief executive officer (CEO) had travelled. When he returned and brought a confidential letter for me to type, he looked at me keenly and shouted, “Hey, we have a baby typist here!”
Well, the “baby typist” is a grown-up one now and still typing!
I was a typist, yes, and I felt dignified about it. I never referred to myself as being “just” a typist. Why should I? An engineer never says, “I’m just an engineer” nor does a doctor say, “I’m just a doctor”! They put a premium on their profession and so did I.
No matter your skill, do not look down on it; rather, thank God for it. By all means, seek further knowledge to enhance your skill, but be thankful for what you have.
Typing is not only a skill but also an art. In those days whenever I typed, I artistically positioned the text on the paper to appeal to the eye. My boss called me to his office one afternoon.
“Did you type this?” he asked—and I thought, oh no, I’ve messed up. But it was not a mess.
“This is beautiful typing,” he commended. “Thank you.”
“Thank you, sir,” I replied, feeling good that I could produce a well-typed text from my boss’s hardly legible handwriting. It is double rewarding to be paid a salary for doing something you enjoy doing.
At church, I served the Lord as a clerk, typing all kinds of church documents. Pastors, leaders, and Christian friends became beneficiaries of my typing skills.
A scripture verse that guarded me in my work in those days (and still guards me) was: “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men . . . you are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24).
When I left the civil service in search of another fulfilling job, my typing skill opened doors for my swift employment at the bank and later at the regional education office.
By that time, I had become a stenographer-secretary, writing Pitman’s Shorthand and recording minutes at meetings and typing them. The day my boss came for me on a weekend to type reports for him, I felt excited that I was relevant—thanks to the typewriter and its inventors.
The names associated with the invention of the typewriter include Christopher Latham Sholes, referred to as “the father of the typewriter”. Other inventors of the typewriter were William Austin Burt, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule.
It is said of author Enid Blyton, a prolific novelist, that the sound of her typewriter was the most identifiable sound in her neighbourhood. In our time, the sound of the typewriter indicated typists at work. Today, the computer keyboard is silent, so you don’t know if the person behind the computer is working or watching a movie!
To the glory of God, I celebrate the typewriter as a Labour Day commemorative trophy.
It was the typing skill that delivered my first job, and it is the same old typing skill that has supported my career in writing and publishing over the years.
When I developed a flair for writing as a youth, my ability to type made it easier for me to produce good-looking manuscripts quickly and nicely for publishers.
In the university, while other students appealed to friends to type their term papers and thesis, I was at ease typing my scripts and beating the deadlines—before typing for friends!
My desire for further education propelled me up the educational ladder until Legon awarded me a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies.
Yet I can say without the slightest lowering of dignity, and to the glory of God, that I value my typing skill as much as any degree I have earned—thanks to the typewriter!
The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.