Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tapping at your last nerve: two perspectives on the pitfalls of office typing

There are many, many reasons why working in an office – any office – can be a challenge for those among us who would rather be lounging by a pool, with a cocktail in hand and generally enjoying a life of decadent debauchery.

One reason why working in an office is so challenging is the furious – nay, frenzied – speed at which people type. Is it just me or are there people in offices who genuinely feel that waving their administrative schlong around via typing at warp speed, will land them in the boss’s lap, complete with promotion, bonus and an all-round pat on back?

Well, I have news for such ‘highfliers’. Typing ridiculously fast does not actually prove that you are the employee of the month; rather it just means that you have a very close relationship with the delete key as you frantically bash it to remove all the typing errors that you have made in your pointless haste.

Just the sound of typing drives me mad – I mean, what are these people doing? Emailing their mothers? On Facebook messenger? Writing a PhD thesis? I cannot believe that anyone can fire off emails without even a nanosecond of pause between each one. If they really are working solidly, then I have to conclude that they are the most long-winded people that ever walked the earth. I am just glad that I am not the recipient of all these mind boggling and dull paragraphs – surely the whole ethos of administration is to be clear, succinct and precise?!

Don’t get me wrong, I can keep up with the best of them. My fingers are the most toned part of my body – but, I take my time as I don’t feel that I have anything to prove via my keyboard. Ever heard of the Tortoise? Well, that’s me – even if it does mean that the delete key is left feeling a bit neglected. Read more by Naomi.

I have many failings, including the fact that I am that irritating person sitting near you in the office who types in frenzied, noisy bursts. I’ve long suspected it might annoy others but now I know for certain. Sorry, Naomi. As a bonafide keyboard basher, I can honestly say that’s not my intention, merely an unfortunate side effect.

You see, I’m an excitable sort. It makes me shout involuntarily when discussing anything I feel even remotely passionate about, causing my now-almost-deaf spouse to plead repeatedly, “I’m sitting right next to you. Stop yelling!” But I can’t. I’m in the throes of what I’m saying. And it doesn’t stop there. When typing it’s the exactly same principle: I’m talking loudly – just with my fingers.

So that’s my excuse. But what about how the world looks form my well-worn keyboard? Amongst the quick typers, you have two distinct breeds. There are those like me who haven’t trained as a secretary or worked for some form of qualification in the art of pressing buttons, but  through many hours of angsty teenage typing, dubious creative writing, heart pouring via MSN Messenger (in the days pre-Facebook) your digits have spent so long hitting familiar keys that, almost without noticing it, they have memorised the position of each and every one.

Then there is the other group: those who learnt properly, those to whom precise and fast typing is their skill, their pliable trade and even their raison d’être. And nothing irks them more than upstarts who undermine them by simply picking it up by accident.

In the face of such madness, to keep some sort of order in the chaos, they must continually point out that you have not been properly taught, that you cannot actually, truly touch type (in its strictest definition) and endless other insinuations that you are an interloper, fraud and general force of malevolence within the office environment.

The part of me which reads self-help books wants to reach out to these anxious and alienated souls and tell them not to be threatened by me. I don’t want their job, honestly.

However, at the times when they lurk over my shoulder asking pointless questions in eager anticipation that I will make a mistake so that they can strike up the well-practised refrain of “You’re not actually a trained typist” then I want to swivel around and snap: “Piss off back to your menial tasks.” Read more by Rosie.