On reading the comments from yesterday's post, I was surprised to learn that several of my readers also "speak" Gregg shorthand. I wonder if they've found it as useful as I have over the years.
When my children were little, I used to buy their Christmas presents and wrap them immediately to prevent snooping. So that I didn't forget what was inside each package, I'd write the contents in shorthand on the package tag. It drove the kids crazy; they'd try to get my sister (another shorthander) to tell them what it said.
I use my shorthand at work, of course, and at meetings I attend for church. I write my gift list in shorthand so that if my family finds it, their surprises won't be spoiled.
Here's my best shorthand story: I was spending a night as the on-call chaplain at our local hospital. The beeper was being very well-behaved and it seemed I was in for a quiet evening. I stopped by the family lounge, where people wait for news of someone in surgery. A small gathering there looked anxious, so I approached them. It seemed that their person had been in surgery far longer than they had anticipated; they had had no word, and were very worried. I offered to check into it. I went to the OR suite and checked in at the main desk; someone there was able to give me a progress report about the patient, giving me a great many details which I wrote down on the little notepad I carried. I was glad to be able to take good news to the waiting family.
Since it was still pretty quiet, after doing the visits I'd been requested to handle, I sat down with the patient census to see if there were any recognizable names. There were a couple of patients who came in and out fairly regularly, and I liked to check on them. And, of course, I would want to visit people from my church or neighborhood. Up popped a name I recognized immediately, a name I'd not thought of for thirty-five years: My high school shorthand teacher.
I went up to her room and she looked up expectantly. She was alone. "Miss Myers?" I began. "I don't know if you remember me." She looked me over and she did. She'd been my homeroom teacher as well as shorthand, so I'd been with her for three full years. We settled in for a visit; she wanted to know about my life and I wanted to know about hers. She had been retired for some time; her brothers and sisters were all gone. She lived in a retirement community and this was the first time for her to be hospitalized. It was all overwhelming. The next day would bring surgery for her breast cancer. She was terrified. She was thinking through what her life had meant.
I spent a long time with her, listening, reassuring, praying, listening some more. As I got up to leave she stopped me asking, "Nancy, do you ever use your shorthand?" "Of course I do!" I assured her, pulling the pad from my jacket pocket. "In fact, I used it just before I came up to see you!" I showed her the notes I'd made at the OR desk and her sweet anxious face lit up. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "I can read every word!"
PS: What's Linus saying? "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."