Shorthand for Sale

"You should take all the typing and shorthand classes you can, so that you'll have some good, marketable skills to fall back on."

These were the words of wisdom shared with me by my well-meaning aunt. They are the words that prompted me to take every shorthand, typing, and 10-key class I could during high school and my first year of college.

The typing and 10-key, I still use. But let's talk about shorthand. For those of you who are too young to know what shorthand is (and sadly, that's probably a pretty good chunk of the population now) it was the skill that would allow a boss to tell the secretary what they wanted written, while the secretary wrote it down with a series of scratches and scribbles that were then typed back into the English language. To the average person, they looked like a cross between doodling and Chinese.

I excelled at shorthand. I could take dictation at over 100 words per minute. I could transcribe that dictation with nearly perfect accuracy. I practiced it so much that I started thinking in shorthand. Shorthand, along with my typing, 10-key and other secretarial skills were preparing me for a future career.

Sadly, I used shorthand at exactly one job. And at that job, I was called in to take dictation twice. The next time my boss called me in, he showed me this amazing gadget that you recorded your memos or letters into and then I could transcribe it using this wonderful machine called a transcription machine. Just two years after I graduated from high school, shorthand was eliminated from the curriculum.

So what do you do with an obsolete skill? You can't take it to a pawn shop or the Goodwill with your parachute pants, your oversized color-blocked sweater or your 8-track tapes of K.C and the Sunshine Band. I guess you can do what I do and take down baby blessings for relatives. You can write yourself secret notes that you don't want anyone to be able to read. You can impress little children by showing them how funny their name looks in shorthand. Beyond that? There's really nothing you can do with it.

Thankfully, I've heard it said that it sharpens your mind to have a skill like shorthand. So any time I start to feel a little dull in the head, I'll whip out a steno pad and take a few curlicued notes.

As far as good preparation for a career down the road? I guess I'd better hope that books don't become obsolete.


Heidi Totten said...

Actually - there is a use for shorthand! My friend uses it when babies are blessed in her ward. She then translates it and prints it out and gives it to the family. It's pretty cool. :)

Lisa said...

i'm so grateful to have had you use your mad shorthand skills at each of my baby's blessings.thanks for doing that. it sure is fascinating to look at.

Kristi said...

I would take the shorthand skill over not having it. I bet you can take some excellent notes in church or conference.

Aim Aug said...

So glad if we ever have another baby, I'll know who to ask to write down the blessing! A skill is a skill, right?

Leslie said...

i remember borrowing your shorthand book so that i could learn a few words, but i don't think i ever tried to learn it beyond flipping through the book. i cannot understand how that can all stay in your brain for this many years. it is amazing... i could call it a skill and a talent.

thank you for writing down aaron jr's blessing. until the next one... keep that skill sharp. :)

Christie said...

I took shorthand in high school! I loved it. Dreamed in it, even. Now? Can't remember it to save my life.

Melissa said...

If you ever teach shorthand, I would love to learn!!

(We don't have too much extra money floating around for me to take a shorthand course.)

Anonymous said...

Mary says:
I have been teaching shorthand for 30 years and now retired I give Pitman lessons over the telephone for very little cost to keep the skill going. There is still a demand in courts and hospitals.
certificats 130 wpm.