Here’s a riddle:
Why didn’t the woman know how to type?
There were no signs of injuries around the digits of her fingers. There was no swelling at the knuckles or wrists, not a wrap or a brace to suggest carpel tunnel.
She kept her nails at a practical length and she used a grip strengthener during conference calls. To this day she spends time in front of the Steinway in her living room.
Here are some clues.
The woman in our riddle started her career on Madison Avenue during the ‘Mad Men’ years. She drove herself to escape the gravity that held stenographers, secretaries, receptionists and ‘gal-Fridays’ in low-level jobs.
Women newly promoted out of the clerical ranks faced a slippery slope. They risked being enlisted to “take a letter” and type it “just this once.” If that happened often they could dragged back into the steno pool.
The subject of our riddle worked her way into senior management positions and came to be recognized as a ‘Women of the Year’ in her profession.
I met Marion when she was recruited as a rainmaker at an international advertising agency. She was exceptionally savvy and we lined up to share assignments with her.
When Marion and I launched our own boutique marketing-services firm a few years later, we outfitted our small team with state-of-the-art IBM Selectric Typewriters.
Although it’s almost certain she had been able to knock out fifty words a minute during college and in her entry-level positions, Marion’s index fingers never once settled on the home keys of our typewriters.