Guest Post by Juan Alanis (@JuanOfWords)
At school there was always an excuse not to attend my computer classes. Some days it was hanging out with my friends, running away from the security guard at our middle school we all called “Slim” – he wasn’t and that’s what made it so hilarious. Other times it was driving away from my high school and just not making it back until this particular class was over. The last time I had taken a computer class, at the beginning of middle school, it had been so difficult that only by cheating had my grades improved enough to allow me to obtain a passing grade. At home, we didn’t have a computer and in my mind there wasn’t any reason why learning how to use one would ever help me.
I guess you could say que estaba bien tapado.
That last summer before graduation, though, there was a job I wanted. I’d applied in person and passed their initial employee assessment with flying colors and now was up for a typing test. How hard could it be? Without any training or familiarity with the keyboard at all, I went ahead and walked into the high rise where I would have been working had I passed this portion of the selection process. After a few introductions, a ride in a fancy elevator, and a cup of coffee, me and the only other applicant there were taken into a room where we were handed a piece of paper with a couple of typed paragraphs on it.
“Type everything on it and let us know when you are done.”
Off we went – me typing each letter, one at a time with one finger, the girl next to me speeding through the whole document in the same amount of time it took me to complete one sentence. She got up and went to tell them she was done. They came back in the room and praised her for her accuracy. I was still typing. Finally they just asked me to stop. I was humiliated. The whole experience had been so embarrassing that I just got up and walked away with my head down in shame.
That day, however, I made a decision. One way or another I was going to teach myself to type.
I pulled out the handbook for teaching yourself to type that I’d saved from my last computer class and borrowed my sister’s typewriter. Every day I made myself sit down and practice typing. As luck would have it, a few days later it was time to take another typing test for another job. This time I was more prepared. I could actually type more than a couple of words, but it was still with one or two fingers poking the letters one at a time.
It wasn’t enough.
They told me to come back the following week and try again. I did and each week for about six to eight weeks the ladies in the human resources department kept telling me the same thing – “Come back next week. We’ll try again.” I had been humiliated that last time and this time, no matter how mortifying it was, I was not giving up. As long as they allowed me to keep coming back, I would!
Finally, when they told me I was actually fast enough to pass (I think the words per minute required were 28) I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that I had passed. I couldn’t believe that I had taught myself to type. And I couldn’t believe they were now making me a job offer. I was still in high school when I accepted this job and managed to stay with the phone company for seven years before graduating from college and moving on.
Now, whenever I’m sitting in front of my computer trying to figure something out, especially anything having to do with HTML and coding, I always think back to this experience. It taught me a great deal about myself. About what I was capable of, and what it meant to echarle ganas y no darme por vencido. This was the first time I’d ever done something like this for myself and it made me want to do more.
I was hungry for new challenges. I wanted to push myself to see what else I could do.
I’d like to believe that I’m still pushing myself today.
I hope you are doing the same!
About The Author:
Juan Alanis a.k.a. @juanofwords is the Founder & Editor of the award-winning blog www.juanofwords.com. He is also Director of the new Houston LATISM Chapter. You can follow Juan on Twitter and Facebook.