My Life As A Dictator #socs

Image by Dmitriy from Pixabay

When I worked at the bank almost 40 years ago, after I was promoted to senior programmer analyst, they told me to dictate all my memos, meeting minutes, and outside correspondence so that the administrative staff could then type them for my correction and approval. Sounds great, right? I mean, up to that point I had been writing everything out and giving it to the administrative people. Now, no writing, I’d just dial the number for the dictation equipment, identify myself, and start speaking. Easy-peasy, right?

Problem was, they offered no training on how to dictate a document. I was pretty much on my own.

Try as I might, I never quite got the hang of it. I would forget what I wanted to say, I’d get halfway through the next point and remember something I was suposed to say in the first point… in short, I was a real mess. I finally decided that the best way to deal with it was to write the whole thing out, then call it in and read it over the phone.

One day, I was reading one such memo over the phone and one of the administrative people, Linda, came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. Startled me and I dictated a couple of words I didn’t mean to.

"What are you doing, John?"

"Dictating a memo."

"So you’ve written the whole thing out and now you’re reading it into the phone?"

"Uh huh."

"That’s stupid."

"They told me I have to do it this way."

She took the papers out of my hand. "I’ll be back."

Five minutes later, she was back with my memo, typed perfectly. "From now on, just bring it to me."

It worked for a while, then her boss found out what she was doing and went to my boss. We both got in trouble for it. I went back to writing out the memo longhand, calling the dictation number, and reading it into the phone.

Linda runs Stream of Consciousness Saturday, brought to you this week by Jif, the fine grind peanut butter. Choosy mothers choose Jif!

37 thoughts on “My Life As A Dictator #socs

    1. There are those (Rod Serling was a great case) who could dictate at will and the words would just flow. That wasn’t me, and it sounds like it wasn’t your husband, either. Most people need to see their words in writing to know whether what they’re saying makes any sense.

      I tried Dragon Naturally Speaking a couple of times, and each time I’d end up screaming at the computer. Didn’t save me a second…

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  1. Back in the 70’s, I worked as a Kelly Girl (remember those?) a couple of times. I did a lot of dictation transcribing from a Dictabelt so…yeah, I wonder how many of those executives would have rather just written out what they wanted to say and let the clerical staff type it out? Alana ramblinwitham

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  2. I would have written or typed it out before dictating too. Otherwise, it would have been messed up for sure. I used to type what was on a dictating machine and I was good at it.

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    1. Thing was, I used to type it out, and then I’d just put it on a memo and send it out. They told me not to do that, so I was writing it out and Linda was typing it. Then, they told me to dictate it, meaning I’d write it out, read it into the dictation system, and Linda would type it for me. It’s like the process just got more complicated, not because it had to, but because everybody wanted to tell me how…

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    1. We didn’t get in that much trouble. I was worried that they’d fire her. If they had, I would’ve quit. My rear end was pretty chapped from being told to use the dictation as it was. I had been fine doing my own typing to start with…

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  3. At a tech services company I worked for, we had electronic mail (a pioneering thing back then). When we were bought out, our new data center director was so old-school, he didn’t know how to use email, and wouldn’t learn. He would have his secretary print his email and hand it to him. He would then write out a reply on paper, and hand it to her to type in and send. (That particular jerk was the main reason I left the company and went back into the higher-education world.)

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  4. I think most of my docs have a template they use because I have a template I follow when I’m typing their dictation and it matches almost to the word. Makes my job so much easier.

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  5. I’ve been out of the workforce for 45 years, since my first baby was born, but I’ll never forget having to take shorthand. My boss at the time was a southern gentleman with a very heavy drawl and dictated as fast as an auctioneer. I’m lucky I got half of what he said!

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    1. There are some writers that do. Rod Serling was one of them, and there are some who work with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I tried that for a while, and quit when I found myself yelling at the screen…

      Liked by 1 person

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