Miss Myers

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."


Synthia said…
I have always wished I'd had the opportunity to learn shorthand. I love your story!!!
I took shorthand in college, but like any language, you lose it if you don't use it. All I can remember is 'the' and 'ing'. Sad, isn't it?
Janet O. said…
I love that story, Nancy. So nice that you could be there to be a listening ear and and comforting friend to someone from your past. And I bet it was validating to her at that time to think that she had given you something of value to use through your life.
Pat said…
You have a gift, m'dear. Lovely story.
Anonymous said…
Beautiful story! So glad you could be there for Ms. Myers.
Kathy B
MB in MI said…
Thanks for that!! I loved shorthand--couldn't type for beans, but was fast at shorthand. Great post!!
Oh my Nancy, thank goodness for the typewriter and for shorthand. After my husband got out of the Army he used those skills learned in the service to support his family while going to college. He was also a medical transcriber for years at night while teaching during the day while I took in laundry, washing and ironing (no permanent press in those days)to make ends meet on a teacher's pay. It was a big purchase when we bought an IBM Selectric for his home/school work.
OT Quilter said…
What a wonderful story. It is so gratifying to a teacher to have a former student let you know that what you taught was meaningful. And shorthand??? I taught myself one summer while I was in HS so I could take notes faster, but I must confess that I didn't keep at it. My last supervisor (in a high school) started her career as a business teacher, and she always used shorthand to take notes at meetings. So it is alive and well, at least among people of a certain age.
Let me know when you are going to rant about cursive writing! I'll join in, if you are for it, that is. I'm afraid is it going the way of the hand-written thank-you note.

Okay, now I've made myself feel like a real dinosaur!
But again, thanks for the story of Miss Myers.
Helen said…
What a wonderful story.

I love shorthand. I loved it in high school, used it in my secretarial career as needed and still use it occasionally for gifts, lists and personal things.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Merry Christmas.
JudyCinNC said…
I love this story - also had shorthand in high school, but never had a job where I could develop it, so in came the transcription machines - those I became proficient with. Thanks for sharing this and warmest Christmas wishes to you. Judy C in NC
Nann said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nann said…
I enjoyed both your shorthand posts. How wonderful to recognize your teacher after all those years!

I have a blogpost of my own in response to yours....
Mrs. Goodneedle said…
What a wonderful story. I never took shorthand but I can certainly realize the benefits; and, I ditto Linus' sentiments!
suz said…
I never learned shorthand of any kind, but someone gave me the Gregg workbook and I taught myself words I need for work - loan, mortgage, deed, note, etc. so that when when the attorney I'm working with gives me instructions I can jot down notes quickly. However, while each "word" is legible to me, I doubt your teacher would be able to read them - I think I've "tweaked" them over the years - but the basic use has been helpful.