We lost systems access in the middle of class.  Specifically, lights and all the computers went black today. 

The instructor paused, and the attendees exchanged worried looks.  Everyone assumed there was a building backup generator about to “kick in”.  But it didn’t.

Observing from the back of the room, I was in the middle of creating a course outline for an upcoming class when the power was lost. 

No – I hadn’t just hit the “save” button. 

I didn’t panic – after all the content was my own design, and I knew that I could recreate it again,  if required. 

I left the classroom and attempted to make my way to our offices, but of course, the office security badge ready wasn’t working without the electricity. 

Back to the classroom.  

The instructor received a text message indicating that building security was expecting results in a few minutes, and for everyone to “remain in place”.


Determined to complete my course outline and avoid working late, I decided to recreate my outline and course description “the old fashion way”. 

Unfortunately, there were no typewriters available. 

My favorite was the Smith Corona typewriter of my high school “office skills” class. 

I could make that equipment hum with the sound of clickety-clack of 70 words per minute, but no typewriter was visible in our dark, high-tech corporate training room. 

My only choices were the ballpoint pen and blue line pad that I carry throughout my workday.   


After waiting hopefully (for 15 minutes) for the lights to return, I reluctantly picked up my pen and pencil and began to write. Surprise! The information began to flow.  Surprisingly, I used the pencil eraser for just a few changes.

Historically, I draft my materials using my trusty laptop and compose while typing. However, on this day,  I was able to recreate the content for our course catalog within 15 minutes. 

After the power was restored, I quickly “touch typed” the completed content, hit the save key and uploaded it to the SharePoint catalog.

Would I choose to return to the tools of yesterday?


But if necessary, I can.

updated 3/18/2020. Originally published 12/23/15 on HobSontraining.com

One thought on “Pencils, Ballpoints and the Smith Corona Typewriter

  1. I kid you not! I really want a typewriter for myself. Just the noise of the keys as you go along. Its on my wish list! I really enjoyed reading this!!

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