04 June 2010
Peck or Pound?
New colleagues steal side glances at EJ working on the keyboard. They thought EJ was angry venting all the anger hitting the keyboard hard instead of confronting the cause.
Old colleagues did not give a hoot and continued what they were doing.
When EJ started work in a media company, internet and laptops were not available.
There was this majestic-looking metal machine Underwood typewriter. It was for the secretary to type letters and memos. EJ has typed on this before and loved how the keys 'kick back' when you hit the keys hard enough.
Writers use smaller 'portable' Olympia typewriters. It was considered 'portable' those days and being all metal, it was not exactly light to carry around.
This, too, has almost the same 'kick back' when you hit the keys. Since all were manual, writers have to use carbon papers to make copies. With one copy for the editor, another for the sub and one for your own file plus carbon paper between them totalling up to five sheets, you have to hit the keys really hard for the last copy, yours, to be legible.
To let you know you have reached the right margin end of the page, a sharp bell 'ding' sound will be heard. To go to the next line, you pull the carriage return lever situated on the left of the typewriter to the right which will turn the carriage that consists of a cylindrical platen (the large spool the paper goes around) a notch and move to the left margin. This was not silent. It produced sounds somewhat like 'ding', 'kerek'. Combined with pounding of the keys on five sheets, it would go kachung, kachung, kachung, ding, kerek...kachung, kachung, kachung, ding, kerek...
Imagine this at deadline with 30 or more writers pounding away, not-so-sleek telephones ringing their hooks off and people shouting across the room, it was just as noisy as in the fish market. Or worse. Despite of all the noise, brilliant stories were written and filed on time.
EJ feels this kind of situation is conducive to learn and acquire total concentration.
Nowadays laptop users type silently, softly pecking at the keys.
Habits die hard. Somehow with EJ's habitual pounding on modern flimsy laptop, fragile plastic key cover tops has never flown off.
EJ still loves that majestic antique Underwood typewriter!