‘Y2K’ is more than a computer glitch

Last Saturday morning, I bought my “Y2K” insurance. And in the afternoon, I used it for the first time.
How well I remember the click . . . click . . . click of the keys. And the throw of the carriage. It’s the way I wrote letters and journals for a large part of my life.
No delete key. No quick and easy corrections. No simple printing of dozens of copies. Only the tedious typing and retyping with carbon paper sandwiched between thin onion-skin sheets.
Using a little round wheel-like eraser with a brush on the end.
There’s only one way to understand that era, and that’s to have lived through it. With all those memories, how could I possibly have walked away from that beautiful mint-condition Remington-Rand at last Saturday’s garage sale.
My first typewriter was an Underwood portable–a high school graduation present. It was the perfect companion for college, and travelled beautifully in its own little suitcase.
At the time I went to college, there were three careers for women. In one you looked pretty in a perky little white hat and white uniform. In another you wrote on a blackboard and sat behind a desk with an apple on it.
And in a third, you clickety-clacked all day on a typewriter.
Even as a tiny girl, I knew which ones appealed to me for I never could stand the sight of blood. What was difficult was choosing between the typewriter and the desk with an apple on it so I chose both and taught typing.
It was just a month after my 21st birthday when I walked into a sunny, bright classroom in Kitchener, Ont. A beautiful typing classroom complete with 20 spiffy new typewriters on 20 equally spiffy new typewriter desks. Each outfitted with a stand to hold a typing textbook.
Typing classes were being introduced at Rockway High School for the first time, and everybody wanted to take them. Even for me, it was more fun than teaching English.
But that was a long time ago, and I had almost forgotten that manual typewriters still existed. Until, that is, all the “Y2K” hype began and the possibility emerged that utilities in some locations could be interrupted.
When you think about it, just what would a person do these days if you couldn’t use the computer? No handy e-mail. No quick casual typing, with easy deletes and corrections. In fact, without electricity, no typing at all–unless, that is, you were to own a near-antique manual typewriter.
Each of us will think of “Y2K” in our own way. We’ll imagine that our heat might be interrupted in the middle of the winter. Or our water source affected.
That we might get stranded in airports or be unable to access bank accounts. Or that the breadmaker won’t work.
It’s a curious thing that all of our concern about the 21st century has come to be focused on two little digits that might be missing on some computers. A new century deserves more respect than that.
So what about you? What are you doing to get ready for “Y2K”? Will you squander the time from now until Jan. 1, 2000 focusing on a possible computer glitch?
Or will you use the opportunity of a lifetime to dream big dreams and embrace grand visions? Who knows what you could do with a fresh new century!

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