Song of the Day - 100 - Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

Earlier this morning at the local coffee shop I saw my high school typing teacher.


At my high school we didn't have computers yet, and so every student, especially the girls, were required to learn how to type, since the general expectation at the time was that the majority of students would need a skill to help them through college, or to bide their time until they got married, started a family, and left the workforce altogether.

This was the 80's. This was small town Utah. This was before the State Legislature or the District recognized computers really were here to stay and approved a technology budget. This was WAY before the Women's Movement was acknowledged other than by dismissive comments or fear mongering threats. DO NOT even say Equal Rights Amendment or your head might explode and somebody will accuse you of being a lesbian or a man-hater.

To give you an idea of the typical threats that were passed on to us, the Farah Fawcett-maned, these jeans are not tight enough girls, by ill-informed, well-meaning adults, here's just one: Title IX meant that we were now going to have to share locker rooms and bathrooms with the boys.

Never happened

The reality of Title IX is that on it's 40th anniversary, women athletes outnumber male at the 2012 London Olympics, and today it is law to fund girls sports, and, it is every girls right to participate in sports.

So, what does this have to do with typing or my typing teacher. Or Brandi Carlile's song 100?

Mrs. Whitman is 98 years old. I was shocked by how small and cheerful she is. And how gracious.  I remember her as stern, serious, humorless. Of course, I am remembering her through my 18 year old prism.

I graduated years and years ago. I hated typing. I thought Mrs. Whitman took herself and typing skills far too seriously. I used to imitate her when she left the class. I would stand at the front of the class, holding her pointing stick and inform my peers in precisely articulated and dolorous tones to sit up straight, keep you fingers lightly on the keys, and eyes on the paper before you. They would roar. I would remind them that typing was a serious skill. Laughing was not allowed. One time during my routine, the laughter stopped, and there she was at the door, scowling. Sit down, please, is all that she said.

She unnerved me.

I knew I was never going to be a secretary. I told her so. I also told her nobody, and I mean nobody, would be using typewriters in the future. Could I please take the hall pass? She told me to sit down, please and resume my timed drill. I did, but I banged the keys mercilessly until she reminded me, fingers lightly on the keys.

 I was a miserable little shitte, as my mother used to say.

The following year in college I was typing all of my papers on a computer. By then I had forgotten my petty standoffs with my typing teacher and was dealing with a professors who refused to accept work printed on blasted dot matrix printers!

At the coffee shop this morning, Mrs. Whitman took my hand and said it was so good to see me, and thanked me for coming over to her table to greet her. Truth is, had it not been for my father wanting to stop and say hello, I wouldn't have. Why? Because I know I must have made her working life harder, diminished her efforts in the way only an ungrateful teenager can. Maybe because I was still a little afraid of her.

I really hope Mrs. Whitman has forgotten how I bratty I behaved. If she remembered, she didn't show it.

I'm glad I stopped and said hello to her. I told her it was good to see her doing so well. I nearly raced to the car because I felt tears stinging my nose.

Perhaps, the years chips away everything but the sweetness.

I hope Mrs. Whitman makes it to 100.

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