Fun fact about me and my dad: his first day of retirement was my first day as a working lawyer.
The timing wasn’t an accident. With 3 kids, he wanted to make sure at least 2 of us were off the payroll before he traded in a steady paycheck for weekday tee times. As the only kid living local at the time of his retirement, I got first dibs on some of his office treasures. A portrait of the Four Courts in Ireland and his favorite fountain pen are still in my office.
There was one thing I refused to take—his dictaphone.
For those born after the digital divide, it’s a little machine that records audio onto teeny tiny cassette tapes. My dad was old school—dictating letters and memos for his secretary to transcribe. I scoffed at his offer. “Dad, it’s 2000. Nobody does that anymore. It’s faster just to type it up yourself.” He was insistent. “Ideas flow better when you talk them through out loud.” “You’ll always think and talk faster than you can type.” He pointed out.
In the end I took the dictaphone (to put an end to the conversation), but never once used it.
It’s been 20 years since that conversation, and 5 years since my dad passed away, and I can say unequivocally…Dad, you were right.
My right hand, my dominant hand, is encased in a cast for the next several weeks thanks to a bad fall and 2 broken fingers. Typing? By the time I hunt and peck my way through I sentence, I’ve forgotten what I was writing about. Writing? I’m signing checks and credit card slips with an “X.”
Which leaves dictation.
Dictation technology has moved light years from my dad’s old dictaphone. Software has replaced secretaries, but my dad’s idea is still correct. I “wrote” this post in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to write it. I may be a better (and funnier) writer in my head. Who knows.
Losing the ability to use my dominant hand seems like a fitting injury for 2020–super annoying, but I’m thankful something more serious has cursed me or your family. Like not being able to go to yoga class is really annoying, but I’m healthy, my kids are healthy, what do I have to complain about?
As I learn the ins and outs of dictation software, it’s been nice to have a little reminder of my dad and his good advice. Even though it’s been 5 years since he passed, I still catch myself wanting to call him to talk through a problem. At least today, for this one problem, I can hear him.
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