Believe it or not, this is the first chance I’ve had to give my other retro Christmas gift a workout. It’s a Smith Corona Clipper. It seems to be a later incarnation of the flat-topped Smith Corona I got last year. It would benefit greatly from a new ribbon, but unfortunately all the ribbons I’ve got are already spoken for by other machines.
This one has seen a lot more use than most of the portables I’ve adopted. The physical wear along the strike-path of the ribbon attests to that. Still, it hasn’t suffered for it. In fact, it seems to be in better shape than many. It’s been serviced—I can see scuff-marks on some of the screw-heads, particularly on the ribbon vibrator.
There’s no obvious flaws. A rare treat! Almost every old machine has something or other wrong with it, like a dead bell, a spongy left margin, or a couple bent typebars. The only grouse I had about this one was a couple of keys that stuck on Christmas morning. Some machine oil and a weeks’ idleness took care of that. (No need to go blaming the “sticky ribbon” again!)
The action has a nice, stiff solidity to it. There’s a weight to the keys that doesn’t slow it down at all. Plus, the keys are those elegant metal-ringed lacquer ones the keychoppers so like to get their hands on. Not this time!
So times are still good around here, and the New Year's Resolution is holding strong. If I found something to complain about, you should berate me for ingratitude.
Although I might let slip that I’d be grateful for an extended break from work. As much as I’ve come to enjoy my job, I’ve been going for nearly a year without a vacation. My own fault. I think I’ll put in for a week in February, even if it just comes down to enjoying the peace and quiet of our own house.
Or would it be better to wait just a wee bit more, and take two weeks off in a row. Then, we could properly go someplace and do our relaxing there. A trip to the UK has been bandied about a few times over the past couple years.
But to do that properly, we’d have to go by ship, and take at least a month…
The Wife points out that I might should have become a schoolteacher. There’s regular vacations throughout the year and summers off besides. Lots of time to travel. Lots of time to write.
I’d have a hard time with the work, though. I’d be too tempted to encourage the students to respectfully question their teachers and find civilized ways of telling administrators to piss off. I certainly couldn’t advise high school students, in good conscience, to put themselves in debt to go to college. “Liberal Arts? Are you crazy? Let me speak to your parents…”
I’d be run off the campus in under a semester.
A girl I went to high school with is driving the school buses now, to support her writing career and her children. There’s unemployment to be had in the summer, and full pay for sitting long hours in the parking lots of sporting events. She writes articles for the local paper from the driver’s seat. And she doesn’t have to get involved in administrative politics. She’s paid just about as well as I am. Even with all these benefits, she says, the bus company can’t keep nearly enough drivers on hand to serve the school’s needs.
I think she might be on to something. Too bad I like my own job so much.
The original typecast was not really worth scanning, on account of the faint ribbon, so you all get a digitized final draft this time.