Take a letter, Miss Jones

Updated: Jul 3, 2018

If you read the About section on my website - www.auxilimbep.co.uk - and the Focus on Experience section, it is not difficult to figure out that I’ve been around for a while. I’m a bit of a dinosaur. They’re extinct, you might say. A bit like carbon copy paper, and MySpace. Ahhh...but there were survivors. Birds. Tens of thousands of species of birds. They evolved and adapted to their environments over millennia.

Yes, I learnt to type on a manual typewriter, a bit like the one on my Home page but not quite as ancient. Sticking plasters covered the keys and we had to type while looking at a giant image of a keyboard on the wall above the blackboard. A typing teacher prowled the classroom, ruler in hand, waiting to rap the knuckles of anyone even glancing down at the keys. She did me a favour because I touch type at 88 words per minute, with an accuracy of 98%.

We sat through painstaking audio-typing lessons. Listening to ‘dictation’, typing what we heard, inserting punctuation, constructing sentences and paragraphs, deciphering mumbling, paper rustling, corrections, revisions and leaving space for missing information. We sat through lessons on pagination and layout and how to present documents so they were pleasing to the eye. Imbalances were marked down and considered sloppy.

We learnt how to take messages, work switchboards, route calls, use comptometers, telexes, facsimiles, printing machines, and photocopiers. We were taught to communicate effectively and accurately, acknowledge requests and responses. We learnt to clarify. Confirm. Structure and pay attention to detail.

We learnt to ‘listen’. Taking minutes, keeping the salient and ditching the irrelevant. We saw the advent of computers, empty, blinking IBM boxes, word processors, and Microsoft Windows and a mouse! We dallied with Lotus and were relieved when it was ditched. We mooched around Microsoft Office features with utter glee because Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access would save us so much time and give us a wide choice of tools to make our work slick and production of it more efficient.

In our roles we built relationships, became the ear to the ground, the barometer, the confident, the keeper of secrets and confidential information. We became cogs within the machinery that could be switched out and redeployed in a different part of the mechanism. We knew our companies, knew the employees, knew our managers and directors, and knew our products.

We gritted our teeth at being stereotyped and longed to punch the resident misogynist in the kisser. We tolerated being overlooked and undervalued but all the while we adapted, bringing in new tools to enhance our companies and learnt new programmes, and ways of working. We adapted and, most importantly, we kept the core skills of communication, structure and verification.

So, yes. I’m a dinosaur but I can fly high, far and wide and cover lots of territory because of how I have adapted and evolved. These are skills and qualities that can add value to businesses. I embrace change. I welcome progress and variety and steady these upon a solid bedrock. Now, where did I put my put my telex tape (Google it).

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