There are very few things I learned in high school that I actually use in my adult life. (Is this a blanket statement that applies to everyone? Or is it just me and my adolescent oddities?) For certain none of my extracurriculars are helping me now—they didn't even help me then very much. I learned to love Margaret Atwood in high school and I still use that skill regularly. I learned the art of the mixed tape from, oddly enough, the three days in tenth grade I spent in seminary. I learned that history is interesting when correctly taught. Oh! I learned to drive, to type, and to make cheese fondue. And I learned WordPerfect.
And honestly, aside from the driving and the typing, WordPerfect is the high school skill I use the most. Let's be perfectly up front about it: I really, really hate Word. I hate it on principle—because I want to resist the homogenization of the world. But I also I hate it because it doesn't think the way I need it to think. I'm functional with Word because I need to be. I based an entire class on it. I use it because the world says I must. But it feels like speaking Spanish feels: the same world but translated differently. Plus it frustrates me to no end with how it tries to control too much.
But WordPerfect? That is my natural word processing habitat. I've never stopped using it since I learned how in tenth grade. I've been with it since it was the blue screen with a blinking cursor. I remember when mouse control was added and no one thought that a computer mouse would ever actually catch on. (Won't it always be faster, the argument went, to just use the function keys?) I remember the furor caused when Windows versions of software started being released.
I remember when every keyboard in the world had a WordPerfect template above the function keys.
You know what I also remember?
All the keystrokes. (Because they were right: it is faster to keep your hands right on the keyboard instead of reaching for a mouse.) And not just the obvious ones. I can get to Typesetting, Merge, Macros, Tables, Spell Check, and almost any feature you can think of, all without taking my fingers off the keyboard.
Of course, this knowledge doesn't help me much in the real world. I still have to use Word for anything that is leaving my computer for the wide world. (Usually, though, I still write it in WordPerfect and then convert it to a Word doc.) It still makes me happy, using WordPerfect. I'll use it as long as they keep making updates. Because, say I wanted to make something like the subway art on this layout
in Word. It would be a painful process of multiple text boxes and frustration over text spacing. Using WP (one text box and the handy "Advance" feature), I made it in 30 minutes. I might have sat back and declared myself a word processing genius when I was done.
So even though it makes me seem a little bit odd and a whole lot dated (when I was teaching, one of my students noticed me using WordPerfect and told me it just made me "vintage" which I suppose should make me feel hip & elegant & cool in a shabby sort of way, even though it really only makes me feel old), I'm sticking by my favorite word processor. Function keys and all. I think my tenth grade teacher would be proud. Maybe prouder if I could actually remember her name? Ah, oh well. At least I remember the keystrokes she taught me.
Do you have a little-known computer software you love and adore beyond reason?