The Typist

By Christian Martin 2010

When I answered the ad requiring applicants for a typist, I should have known something was odd, but at seventeen, looking for a summer job just prior to entering college, I was desperate. It read something like this:

“Firm specializing in constitutional law needs typist; young, healthy, and knows how to hammer at work; no experience or speed necessary. Contact 555-5555 from 9:00 until 9:00.”

I was so eager I called the same day, and, after showing up for the requisite job interview Friday after my last day of school, got hired on the spot. Let me describe how I looked at that age: thinner then a rail, I spent at least two hours a day doing some exercise, and I thought I was fit.

Come Monday, I show up at work at 8:30, eager to earn real money. The first thing I notice as I explore my new environment is a huge room to the left of the secretary's reception area, darkened at this early hour, but with a prominent and impressive screwed-in wood engraving: 'Typist', and, under it, my name! I have my own office!

That morning, the secretary, a lady with platinum-blonde hair and big bosom, is already sitting at her desk, so I introduce myself as the new typist. She is busy sorting out a court brief for the Supreme Court and, rather than risk having all her work crashing down from the desk, just says hello. I grip her hand, which presents callosities. The grip is so firm I wonder if my hand hasn't been crushed. I guess secretarial work in a law firm isn't as cosy as I had it figured out!

I finish touring the inviting and big office space and decide it's time I take possession of my own work area. So, gingerly, I open the door to the 'Typist' and enter; I switch the light on, and notice two hammers hung on a nine-inch nail set right beside the light switch. Boy, am I intrigued! I turn around and I see the most humongous typewriter in my entire life! My eyes want to pop out of their sockets and my jaw would have made a sound hitting the floor had it not been for the plush carpet!

Behind me, I hear the secretary's high-pitched voice saying something to the effect I had found my little den. I turn around to look at her and fall on my ass on the floor. Am I glad it has that plush carpet! The secretary must be six foot six barefoot, but she wears six-inches high needle heels with the elegance of a ballerina stuck in soft asphalt. I notice she has a bottom to match her bosom, probably to help maintain a semblance of equilibrium. All I have the impression of seeing is endless legs! She vaguely reminds me of an ostrich. She wears a dress that barely seems to be decent, nylon socks that leave nothing to the imagination, and a blouse so tight it's a wonder the buttons hold. As I study her, I wonder what happens when a breeze blows in the parking outside the office! I may be a seventeen-year-old boy with raging hormones; I see no interest in climbing on a ladder to give a kiss on the face's cheeks! On the other hand, kissing her ass would be no problem: it's just about at the right height. Red in the face from embarrassment, I look anywhere but at the secretary, too afraid of what I might discover from my vintage point. She bends over, laughing and pulls me up from the floor as if I was a feather. Hey, at five-eight, and barely one hundred and thirty pounds, I am a feather compared to that mastodon!

The boss walks in my office and tells me he has a Court Brief to have typed and to get ready. I look at him, lost. All I see in that office is that huge typewriter, and the two hammers. The secretary tells him she did not have time to explain the work required of me as typist, which I find rather strange. What could a typist do but type? After many 'my little pussy' and other affectionate cat names, the secretary explains that the hammer are to hit the keys on the huge typewriter. The Supreme Court has nine Justices and each brief must be identical. That means there must be at least eleven copies: one per Justice, and one for each party involved, of which there are at least two. So, to produce nine identical, certified copies, the briefs are typed using carbon and involve inserting in the huge, and very dangerous-looking roller, at least eleven sheets of paper with carbon sheets in between them. That was what she had been preparing that morning when I arrived!

The boss, who should probably be considered for the Michelin tyres publicity, begins dictating the brief in a droning voice, that would put an hyperactive child deprived of Ritalin to sleep: 'Petitioner: Yaroslav Yvanovich Jaruleski; Respondent: Province of Quebec; Object: Petition to hear a plea for the unconstitutionality of articles so and so of Law 101…' and it continues for hours. I type letter after letter, my hands sweating profusely and my shoulders want to ask for vacations already, my brain has decided to take a hike on its own. I thought I knew English, but the boss seems to find new words faster than a magician finds rabbits in his hat! I am surprised he hasn't managed to find one that would be too long to fit on a single line yet.

When lunchtime comes, I feel dehydrated, and drink what must be two gallons of OJ. I finally figure out the use of the chalk dustbin beside the hammers! The day continues, and I go home, shower, and crash into bed. Mom is worried I'm sick, and I am too tired to tell her about my day.

The next day, I show up at work with a lot less enthusiasm, and the secretary greets me with a wide smile, commanding me on my perseverance; apparently the previous typists never came back the next day. My boss comes in and says he appreciates a masochist at its true value!

The days continue at the same infernal speed. Now I know why it takes twenty years for the Supreme Court to decide on a case: that Jaruleski 'brief' was a good thousand pages long. The lawyers either have their own definition of 'brief' or their long johns make them drag their feet! I can see a Justice to his wife 'Sorry honey, I have to read the Jaruleski case before next year! The next baby's going to have to wait!'

Anyway, around mid-July, a new machine entered the office: a photocopier. The boss did not trust it and, to be honest, he had good reason, but it turned into a necessity when we landed a case involving two hundred and thirty parties, a violation of an Indian treaty. The boss bought the biggest, meanest, fastest photocopier on the market, which could produce the Gazette's daily output in two hours flat. Yet, he maintained the use of the big typewriter for the original. Lawyers are strange: conservative on methods and laws, yet liberal on food and other issues. I couldn't help notice the boss kept grabbing the secretary's top shelf while trying to push his lower self on her. His truck tyre prevented anything from ever happening, of which, I think the secretary was ever grateful. It was at that time I noticed the top was growing to a size that would have put Marylyn Munroe on the washboard list. If it continued, her bosom could be used to shelve most government reports.

I also noticed the secretary was strong, way stronger than I would have thought possible for a secretary. She lifted these big court briefs and put them in the delivery elevator without breaking a sweat.

Anyway, the first time we used the photocopier almost turned to a disaster. The boss wanted first dibs and put on top the Jaruleski Final Brief for reproduction, all one thousand five hundred and seventy nine pages, set the number of copies to eleven and pressed Start. In less time than it takes to type 'disaster' the photocopier disgorged seventeen thousand three hundred and sixty nine sheets that flew everywhere, filling the photocopy room! The boss had forgotten to set the binder requirement and the reception tray! It took us the day to sort things out, of which I was eternally grateful! Paid vacations!

Later that summer, the law on the protection of confidential documents was activated and the boss decided to buy the biggest, meanest, steel-jaw document shredder on the market. Prior to that, when briefs needed to be destroyed, it was the secretary that tore them to pieces. Have you ever seen someone tear the Toronto phone book in half? Well, that's baby stuff compared to what she would do to documents that needed to be shredded.

Professionals installed the shredder, and the reception bin was in the basement, where a special compactor would compress the paper to a dense amalgam before it got removed by a specialized security firm.

The boss had learned his lesson with the copier and decided to let these inventions of the Devil to his secretary and his typist. The first application of the shredder was to destroy a huge lawsuit involving over a million sheets of paper. It said, on the manual 'Industrial strength - unlimited volume' so the secretary put the machine to work. At first, all was going fine until her eternal blouse caught in the jaws of the paper shark. In no time at all, bye-bye blouse, hop popped the buttons, and the frilly bra got torn off the secretary's shoulders. Next came the two big boobs that tried to escape the jaws of death, only to pop like balloons and get swallowed by the machine. Had they been filled with hydrogen, we might have had a repeat of the Hindenburg catastrophe in the office! As the poor secretary tried to escape impending doom, her hair caught in the mechanism and her wig got eaten up as a side dish. The dress was next and disappeared in the gluttonous machine.

The secretary stood up, crying in fright, and I couldn't blame her. But what appeared shocked me: there stood the biggest male I had ever seen, covered with tattoos, and pumped solid with steroids. The only thing he was wearing was his high heel shoes, stockings and the leather belt that used to hold the dress. I couldn't help to notice his male attributes were smaller than my six-year-old baby brother's. Then the humour of the situation hit me in the face: the boss had been manhandling balloons, and his travelling hands had been grabbing a cocktail sausage! I couldn't hold it anymore and I ran at full speed to the nearest loo and, once safely locked in, began laughing hysterically.

Finally able to take control of myself, I heard crying in the next loo, and looking between the cracks, noticed the secretary. I suddenly felt terribly sad, and after knocking on the door, told her to wait, I would pick her keys and go to her home to get her a change of clothes. She thanked me and told me her address, which was somewhere downtown. I did my run, and brought her makeup set as well and a spare wig I found on her dresser.

The secretary stayed at the employ of the law firm, but the boss never tried to grab anything again. Just as I was leaving for my first year at college, at the end of that fateful summer, the boss bought a CD-reproducing machine in an effort to reduce paperwork. Again, he thought bigger meant better, and the machine could have done Sonny happy. Unfortunately, the ejection mechanism was defective; probably the reason why he had it cheap second hand, and our first run almost killed someone. The CD got ejected so fast it sliced through the air and lodged itself in the concrete support beam across the room. Bosses never learn.