Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Life at 120 words per minute....

First of all, I LOVE Facebook...maybe a bit too much some days. I adore being able to "visit" with old friends I haven't seen in years--getting a little glimpse into their lives through pictures and words. Sure...I'm not crazy about everything in the Facebook universe, but I don't see any point in throwin' the baby out with the bathwater.

As a storyteller, one of my FAVORITE things about Facebook is when a friend's post or comment sparks a memory. And this happened the other day when my friend, Dawn, commented on my post about our friend, Joy. Her comment triggered a memory of Dawn's mama--Mrs. Wynema Vogel--who was mine and Joy's and Dawn's and Becca's...and countless other Mortimer-Jordan-High-School-wannabe-Future-Business-Leaders-of-America's ICON

We believed what she taught us in that class was our ticket a movie'-on-up, high-rise office life of fame and fortune as we rapidly took dictation in Gregg Shorthand, and then transformed those mysterious marks into clear, crisp correspondence (complete with carbon copy) at a lightning-fast-speed of 120 words-per-minute. 

SHE is the reason I can STILL type 80+ words per minute AND can still do this: 

She sat on this high perch-like chair at the front of the class...with a tall stand next to it for her papers and books. In fact, several years ago when I visited my friend, Becca, who had assumed Mrs. Vogel's iconic "throne" upon her retirement, I cannot express to you my disappointment when I walked into that room and found Becca seated behind a common, ordinary desk in a boring, ordinary chair!... The first words out of my mouth were, "Where's your perch?!?!?" 

She was (and still is) just lovely--auburn hair, peaches-and-cream complexion, blue eyes. She wore suits or dresses and high heels EVERYDAY...and her lipstick ALWAYS perfectly matched whatever she wore. Her hair and make-up were always "fixed." She was the epitome of that look I've come to think of as "put together."'ll just show you.

(....Don't you just LOVE old yearbooks?...)

Anyway, Joy and I sat in the back right corner of Mrs. Vogel's classroom. We were ALWAYS in trouble. ALWAYS. We would be typing or transcribing along...then one of us would get tickled at something...and that would be all she wrote...literally. Even when I tried not to get in trouble, I somehow found myself there. (I usually blamed it on Joy's giggle.)

For crisp, clear fall day, I had decided to kick it up a notch in the wardrobe department. Now ...keep in mind...for a chubby Pentecostal girl in the 1970s...kicking it up a notch usually meant experimenting with a new color of knee-length-double-knit culottes. 

But...not that day....THAT day I decided to break out the outfit I had bought with my hard-earned money from my stay-in-school-job at Secret Service. ( heard me right...THE Secret Service...which is DEFINITELY other stories for other times.)...Anyway, my outfit consisted of a full, calf-length floral skirt with a matching cape and a coordinating 'tam. And...I had bought brown Naugahyde boots to wear with it. In my opinion, I looked GOOOOOOOD. Especially with that cute 'tam bobby-pinned at a jaunty little angle on the top of my head. 

So, imagine my complete surprise when, as we're getting ready for the day's first "timed writing," Mrs. Vogel asks everyone to stop what they're doing and listen to an important announcement: 
"Class...I need to point out that headgear is never appropriate in an office setting."


And just guess who was the only person in the classroom wearing headgear?

Well...Joy turned and looked right at me and laughed OUT LOUD. Then I started laughing and...there we trouble...again.

We tried our best to get through that timed writing, but....quite literally...that was all she wrote.

But...don't let this little memory give you the wrong idea of Ms. Vogel. She LOVED her students. She wanted us to succeed--not just at typing and shorthand and filing and bookkeeping and sitting-up-tall-and-straight. She wanted us to succeed at this thing called LIFE. She was constantly encouraging us, taking us to competitions, inviting us to her home. And, Mrs. Vogel is the only reason I got that first job with the U.S. Secret Service.

Several years ago, when I heard from Becca that schools were no longer teaching Gregg Shorthand, I got a little sad. After all, it's what gave me old-school-rock-star-note-taking status with all those young guns in my "late-to-the-dance" college lectures. (FYI--while Mrs. Vogel was an encourager and did everything in her power to help you believe in yourself, our high school guidance counselor was NOT. Her guidance to me for what to do after high school? "Just get a job." For years, I thought college was just a dream for other people. The mean ol' Karen still wants to send her the picture of me receiving my college diploma.)

Well....with that little detour rant out of the way...what I was trying to say is that I still use shorthand all the time--for jotting down messages...and sermon lyrics...and recipes...reminders of all kinds. So...thank you, Mr. Gregg for creating a short-hand version of all these words I've grown to love. It's helped me in ways you never would have expected.

But...most of all, THANK YOU, Wynema! (...did I really just call her that?...) for teaching...for believing...for encouraging...for reminding us that "there is a time and place for everything"--even headgear...for being one of the first models of "excellence" in my life...for pushing us toward good posture... and excellence in everything...including 120 words per minute. 

Some words I once read--"To teach is to touch a life forever"--are never truer than when they are spoken about you. should probably know...I still love wearing headgear.

*Oh...and for you unfortunate souls who DON'T know shorthand, I'll transcribe the picture above: 
"Still take notes in shorthand". 

"So don't just do what you have to do to get by. 
Work heartily, as Christ's servants, 
doing what God wants you to do. 
And work with a smile on your face, 
always keeping in mind that 
no matter who happens to be giving the orders, 
you're really serving God...." 
(Ephesians 6:6-7)

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