Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Modern Day Typist

A person who operates an electromechanical, electronic or mechanical device containing a set of keys, which when pressed cause characters to be printed on a document is called a typist. Thanks wiki. I have tried to modify the definition to fit typists from all ages.

This noble profession has gained importance since the mid nineteenth century. Christopher Sholes and J.W.Glidden brought out a commercially viable model, which Remington produced.

I remember in my young days, hiring the services of a typist meant standing in line for your turn and ensuring he is in a good mood lest he adds/edits/deletes words from your manuscript thereby altering its import altogether.

As time passed by, the mid 90’s saw typists evolving to Desktop Publishing Agencies. I remember seeing a bunch of DTP shops around college willing to type your project report for a fee. The computer keyboard replaced the typewriter.

Mid-nineties, the Indian Economy opened. There was an explosion for typists. This time the requirement was not words per minute. The possession of other skills meant your wpm could be compromised. What were the other skills?

It started out initially as being an engineer in any field. The fact that you are an engineer meant that you have an analytic mind to work on any problem in any field. So the mid-nineties saw Chemical engineers, Metallurgical engineers and even Naval Architects, to name a few branches of Engineering and Technology, with some typing skills, securing a job in a large computer service companies in India.

As time passed, entrepreneurs felt analytic minds could be found even among science, math and statistics graduates. Engineers were beginning to get more expensive.

Late nineties and onwards, world markets expected computer product companies to improve quality. This meant companies had to document and deliver products and services to the best of quality. This really meant altering work content from innovative thought to business process. Soon, entrepreneurs felt analytic minds were really not required. All it required was for someone to be type-savvy (read computer-savvy) and obedient. Extra thought wasn’t required as it perhaps meant re-inventing the wheel. Does improving quality lead a human to shun creative thinking and adopt processes? Does process adherence make the human a Subway-serving-robot?

And so was born the modern day typist. Or you could call him the pampered typist. Pampered because, entrepreneurs felt the need to keep them that way lest they lose out on good obedient guys with a decent wpm.

And how did the entrepreneur pamper the modern day typist?

First, the entrepreneur will pay the typist a salary many times that of the humble typist. The pampered typist, apart from the many ways of standing out, whom I will discuss later, will aim to do everything through gadgets that support typing. Consumer goods and white goods grow. Housing industry grows. Automobile industry grows.

Second, if the typist isn’t really happy with only a fat paycheck, the entrepreneur will ferry him to work and back. Of course, if the typists’ adrenalin is high and feels he can reach home in 15 minutes instead of the 45 minutes by public transport, the entrepreneur won’t force you to take this entitlement. Transport services grow.

Third, if the typist doesn’t really need transport, the entrepreneur offers unlimited coffee and juice while at work. No delivery boys though. Which means the typist spends a cool 30 minutes every drink break. Beverage producing and serving companies grow.

Fourth, if the typist doesn’t care about unlimited drink, the entrepreneur ensures the typist keeps good health. This means he takes efforts to ensure the availability of health and recreation in the vicinity of work. After all finger muscles are not the only ones. Health and allied services grow.

Fifth, if the typist isn’t really a health freak, the entrepreneur ensures there is a food court around. Sometimes the typist gets bored of the food court too. So the market responds to his needs by opening small shacks serving homely food at affordable prices. Catering services grow.

Sixth, in the case our typist is bored of all the above, the entrepreneur will even try to sponsor a joy trip (GMT- or GMT +10) in the garb of a business visit. The travel industry grows.

Seventh, in the case our typist gets really bored of his entrepreneur, other entrepreneurs will try and grab him for a 25% rise every year. Recruitment firms grow.

From the above, it is crystal clear that the modern day typist is the root cause for all …. er…. growth.
You will know there is a pampered typist around you if (pardon the gender bias below),

1. You see him drawing cash at the ATM to buy a cigarette or a revenue stamp.
2. You see him sporting the newest of bikes (if he is a rookie typist) or cars knowing fully well he can't park his car anywhere in the city he types in.
3. You see him in a tie and suit on certain days even if it means mid-summer and even if he isn't interacting with a client.
4. You see a sea of them outside eateries, pubs, discos, lounges and theatres, especially on Friday evenings.
5. Alternately, you see a boom of empty beer bottles outside a doorstep on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
6. You see a host of cars drive out of city on Friday night and an equal host of cars driving back on Sunday night. A two way traffic jam.
7. You see a typist and his co-typist wife eating out for days because cooking gas is over at home and there is no time to procure a replacement.
8. You see him fuming if the length of a queue >= 3.1415.....
9. You see him hunting for credit card and other bill drop boxes if for some reason he’s received them when not going to work.
10. You see two of them exchanging notes about all the enhanced features in their mobiles when in reality they use it only for talking.
11. You see them sporting interesting work titles. In reality, a typist by any other name types as sweet!
12. You see him calling a call center or visiting a service provider to tell them how useless their service is. You might also see two of them talking about their different "call-centered" experiences.
13. You see a worried person telling you his annual increment is only 25% whereas the rate of interest in his loan has jumped 10%.
14. You see a person experimenting very carefully how to get his workplace sink taps to spit out water consistently.
15. In general you see a person with max. dough in pocket and min. time at hand.


narayan iyer said...

the modern typist is not the typist that i was. but i enjoyed certain privileges as a sportsman and so cannot complain about the fat purses the mod typist has.
As a clan they are the most hard pressed key operators of any organisation. give the devil its due. dont blame them for the higher sales of whiteners used to correct typing errors.

VSGopalarathnam said...

Taht was quite interesting. I have been asking around about how the "QWERTY" key boardcame into existence, the logical sequence should have been ABC...etc


KC's Kingdom! said...

Well written again. However, I would have liked it more if you had married the transition of the 'exclusive typist' (that all of us remember from our younger days who always had a roster to service for his daily bread) to this day's 'everyday typist' that each one of us is. In fact, in the subtle undercurrent of fostering growth in other businesses, the 'exclusive typist' has become an 'extinct species'.