Perpetual Plan B

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


When I was in college, I took lots of drafting classes. This is when AutoCAD was just coming out. I learned on version 2.6, which means it was a long time ago. Computer drafting was so new that I also took many drafting classes using an actual drawing board. (As in "back to the old drawing board".) My first job at LMC was all drawing board work. We spent a long time trying to convince the big guys downstairs to spring for computers for us because that was the way of the future. One of my school projects was actually a persuasive presentation on this subject. LMC finally did get computers, but it was after I'd moved to Texas so I didn't get to use one there. (I was the only person at the time in the Drafting Department who actually knew how to use AutoCAD so it was a bummer that they got it after I was gone and I didn't get to help with the changeover. And, to be honest, it might have been kind of fun to teach some of those "old dogs" a new trick or two. A feeling of superiority never hurts the self-esteem, does it?)

In drafting, whether it is by hand or computer, you use mainly capital letters. That's just how it is and so, for years, that's how I wrote for 8 hours a day. After working at LMC for around 3 years, my handwriting (which was never that great to begin with) started shifting to all caps in my everyday life. That is still how I write, even more so than cursive, much to the chagrin of my kids' elementary school teachers who always have a tough time explaining to them why we need both capital AND lower case letters. I've tried to change, really I have but I worked in the drafting industry long enough for it to stay ingrained in my brain.

Doing computer drafting, the first thing you do is hit the caps lock button every day. So to me, all capital letters was normal, I'd never even thought about what it might look like to other people. Not even once in all the e-mails I'd sent back and forth with my boss, friends, etc. One day a little intern dude with a very long pony tail sent me an e-mail about something work related, so I answered him. He replied back "Turn off your caps lock, you're scaring me!" I honestly had no idea what he meant. To me all caps was just necessary to the trade. I was a little snobby in the fact that I didn't like to be confused with the secretaries in the plant, so I really tried, on purpose to steer clear from any "regular" computer classes. I really do wish that somewhere along the line I would have picked up on some of the "computer etiquette" that I'd missed out on. I didn't even take WordPerfect or Word classes, which now I really regret.

To conform, I learned to switch to regular typing for personal correspondence, when I would remember, which was probably not all the time. I still slip once in a while but I think I'm doing much better. I do like the effect of typing a word or a phrase in all caps to emphasize it and probably over-use the technique, but I like how it gets a point across.

I'm still hand writing in all caps though. When I'm writing a note to the kids or something I'm just trying to get it on paper as quick as I can, because it seems like I'm always in a hurry and that's the way it still naturally comes out of my brain. Since my handwriting is getting sloppier every year, not like the neatly made letters of my drawing board years, maybe I'll try to re-learn to write, right along with Austin when he gets into school.