Typing awards were given out at a local school recently. The winners were pictured with their awards on the front page of our weekly newspaper. It was nice to see those smiling faces, gleaming with pride. I noticed, however; yes I have a however, that the bright award winning students are in Elementary school! What? I didn’t even touch a typewriter until I was a sophomore in high school. And yes it was a manual typewriter. We didn’t get to move up to the electric ones until our junior year. So how in the world did these wonderfully bright, but very small, young boys and girls even know how to type? Shouldn’t they still be learning how to make paper mache’ versions of the earth, or telling time by the big handed clock on the wall. Their typing expertise was developed this early in their lives while learning about computers of course.
No this is not a tirade of the computer world. Heaven knows there are volumes to be written about the good and evil of the “www…” I am not the person to discuss DOS versus non DOS, or the use of drones, selfies and on and on. This morning as my mind was pondering about awards I followed a path. It took me from, the end of school year awards through a few more memories and ended up shivering about that fearful all-encompassing permanent record we were threatened with as school aged kids.
Ah the permanent record. Get caught smoking in the boy’s room? Permanent record notation. Check. Skipping algebra because you knew in your heart of hearts that in your entire life you would NEVER use algebra. A blot on your permanent record. Check. Oh and did you know that some schools actually keep the notes sent by parents, or forged by innocent tykes of high school age, to excuse a missed day or two? Yep they also go in the black hole of the permanent record. Check, check and check.
After I was out of school for a few years—well more than ten but less than twenty—I had need of my SAT scores. I wanted to take some college courses so I began the hunt for my permanent record. Cautiously and dry mouthed I called my high school remembering some of the few checks placed in my 12 years of permanent record keeping. I talked to a very young student aid in the office. She took my information and would, she assured me, pass along my request to the “powers at be” who hold the keys to the tomb of the permanent records.
A few days later, nothing was happening so I called again. This time getting an actual grown-up employee. She alluded to the fact that all those old records were stored in a sealed room in the basement of the school district central office. In the back, on the bottom, behind and underneath a mountain of school related oh so very important information. Seems that information collected in permanent records before the computer age is hardly ever requested. I felt a cold chill. Like I was dead. I was no longer important enough to have my permanent record available to add things to or retrieve things from. Maybe she informed me, I could get my SAT records from the college I attended. Well I could, if I had attended college! By this time I was wondering why I even took the SAT in the first place. She promised she would do everything in her power to fill my request. I’m still waiting, more than ten but less than twenty years later.
So for us born and raised in the Stone Age, we no longer have to be consumed by facing the permanent record goblins. But beware to those born in the years after the one billionth Big Mac was sold, your permanent records are stored in computers everywhere and will follow you over hill and dale. So be good; least reports of your actions end up you know where.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.