Coping with Career Disappointment

Faces were lit with excitement at the Huntington Townhouse on graduation day… um, except for Joni, a former graduate, now speaker.

I knew Joni from conversations we had in the hallway when the same time the prior year she prepared for her own graduation day. Her joy and thrill was palpable then. She'd been working in the field for one year, so why did she now look like a deer caught in somebody’s headlights? I was stuck on her face as the ceremony got underway and until a vivacious man arrived at the podium.

Congratulations! he said. You have achieved something greater than your family and friends know. And so I would like to share these statistics with you…

The dropout rate for students of court reporting, he said, was over ninety-five percent and of the less than five percent that graduated only less than three percent made it in the field at the time.

You have succeeded! he said.

There was a collective gasp and I then read in Joni’s slow, serious-faced nod: Yes, folks... you, like me, are super screwed!

The best way to describe the machine writing experience (for me) would be through this imagery:

Close your eyes, cutting out all distraction. Imagine learning a foreign language. Good. You will then learn its slang. You will also need to spell both in a special way. For instance, you will combine letters to form a letter: TKPW is now the letter “G.”

Gooooood! You are TPUBG/G (effing) awesome!

You have completed learning all the combos and passed the final exams on a machine that’s as long as your foot and not as wide.  You understand that writing position is cringed shoulders, your hands together in front of you so they are almost touching (nothing Ben Gay can’t fix.) You will write your slang foreign language at 225 words per minute.

(This description is not in the brochure.)

I graduated and worked in the field for five years. Then I left and purchased a massage chair and a Tempurpedic neck roll pillow.

Next installment: Retail: Where Trouble Melts Like Lemondrops