Saturday, May 4, 2013
The typing test
I took a typing test Friday.
I had applied for a communications job with an institution that will remain nameless and it was a requirement. "How quaint," I thought after I got off the phone. "I wonder if they still use pneumatic tubes for interoffice communication?"
Let me just say, the last typing test I took was in back 1975 when applying for my first post-college job as a hospital admitting clerk.
Since then, I guess my previous employers just assumed I could type because I am, after all, a writer. But, Friday, typing test it was.
The passing "grade" was 45 words per minute with 95 percent accuracy, and I could take the test three times. Most do-able for someone who has sat in front of IBM Selectric or computer keyboard both professionally and recreationally for almost 40 years. (Gawd. Now THAT'S depressing.)
The testing lady got me situated at the testing station cum mail room and I pulled up the practice test and read the instructions. Hmmm. Two spaces after a sentence? one space after a semi-colon? two spaces after a colon? I looked around for the pneumatic tube and clicked the START button.
And with that my hands and arms took on the consistency and behavior of over-cooked spaghetti in a wind tunnel. Perspiration coated my flying digits. They flopped and flailed, out of control, overcome by -- who knew -- a terminal case of performance anxiety!
It did not look like a typing test -- more like an exorcism.
OK. OK. OK. That was just the practice test. Take a deep breath and let's get 'er done, I said to myself.
Real test #1: I barely hit the START button and Panic Hands returned for five minutes of unmitigated keyboard chaos.
Score: 30 wpm, 80 percent accuracy. Son of a bitch.
Real test #2: I took a moment to compose myself and assess the situation. Things were not dire. Yet.
I hit START. This time, the hands and arms cooperated, giving me a chance to fully appreciate for the first time how truly ancient my keyboard was.
The right SHIFT key stuck, requiring a Herculean smack-down whenever a capital letter was needed. Several letter keys wobbled precariously, threatening to fly off at any given moment and SPACE bar would have made a most excellent miniature playground teeter-totter. I began to wonder if had mis-heard and was actually testing for a circus juggling act.
Score: 40 wpm, 85 percent accuracy -- mostly spacing errors. Son of a friggin' bitch. What IS this? Amateur hour?
Real test #3: We live to fight another day. I hit START and went into cruise control. I was in the Typing. Test. Zone. Heck, at this point I could almost do it from memory. Boo-yah!
Score: 50 wpm and. . . . 93 percent accuracy. 93 percent? 93 percent? You have got to be eff-ing kidding me. More bad words. In my head.
And with that, I took my third and final test and meekly presented it to the human resources manager. She studied it for a minute, murmuring sadly, "Oh, that's too bad. You were so close," before extending her hand to say "It was nice meeting you."
Boom. Ann-nn-nd. Dismissed.
Off you go, typing test flunky. And don't forget -- two spaces at the end of each sentence.