Robert Green, long-time proprietor of Amherst Typewriter, recently told his story on Connecting Point, as captured in this video. As I watched, I was struck by several things. First, the mere fact that a typewriter repair shop still exists in an era where we are connected 24/7 to our tech gadgets is worth taking a closer look.
Then I really listened as Mr. Green described the tactile sense of tapping the key to strike the mechanism onto the paper without regard to making a mistake.
I was instantly transported back to Mrs. Bridge's typewriting class in high school where I saw my first IBM Selectric typewriter. It was placed at the very front of the classroom under Mrs. Bridge' s watchful eye. "Who would like to try our brand new electric typewriter," she asked. I held my hand up thinking it couldn't be worse than jamming my fingers into the depths of the standard issue contraption I was using. I remember turning it on and it being very loud and very sensitive to touch. I was soon typing my personal best. Deep down I felt a little guilty thinking that I had an advantage over the other 20 or so students who labored away on their obstinate typewriters.
Mr. Green described the relationship that authors often have with their typewriters, taking comfort in the deliberate action the machine seems to cause. I have enough trouble dealing with autocorrect on a smart phone -- a phenomenon known to provide countless Epic Fail lists. I can't imagine enjoying the experience of writing a novel on a Smith Corona.
The tools may change, but the engagement is what really counts. How we engage with the tools of our trade, and with each other. Sometimes taking the low tech route can make the biggest impact on forming lasting relationships - a hand written note, a clipped article from a newspaper, a visit over coffee . . . maybe even a trip to the typewriter repair store.
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.