Why higher mathematics was wasted on a writer-to-be

Why higher mathematics was wasted on a writer-to-be

I shoulda took typing. My senior year in high school I could have opted out of advanced algebra and trigonometry and taken a typing class. The thinking was, as a college-bound scholar another math course would be beneficial to my prospects.

No one, myself included, considered the absolute truth that I would never go anywhere near a career that involved higher mathematics.

No one, myself included, considered the absolute truth that the only marketable skill I possessed was my questionable ability to put two or three sentences together in a sometimes coherent narrative.

I passed advanced algebra and trig — by the skin of my teeth, though I never figured out how to work a slide rule.

Had I taken a typing class, life would have been easier — especially for the professors who had to read my essays written out in longhand, even then so illegible that even I could barely decipher them after an hour or two.

I took three math classes in college, passed two of them. After college I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and was assigned for training as a clerk/typist. The Army sent me to an on-job-training assignment instead of typing school, assuming, I suppose, that a college graduate would know how to type. I spent two months filling out training forms in a corner as far away from the typewriter as the top sergeant could get me. I also painted the orderly room and made coffee.

I did learn to type, in a fashion — hunt and peck, mostly, with a tad of correct finger placement as instructed by a supply sergeant I met in basic training.

Advanced algebra and trigonometry were of no value as a clerk/typist. I have not needed advanced math one time as a reporter. I type every day, and have recently noticed that typing errors seem to be cropping up with more frequency. Spellcheck helps, conveniently flagging those errors in red. Some days I seem to have more words flagged than left alone.

Also, I realized — much too late — that in the 1960s the ratio of girls to boys in typing class was about 2-to-1. I could probably have figured that out had I been better at math.

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