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True Story: Once I Was Peggy from Mad Men. Typewriter Week, Entry #4

by Twitchy on February 15, 2013

Later, Don. *wink*

I’m a Mad Men buff. I love it, love it, LOVE IT. There are too many reasons why I’ve no other choice: it began set in 1960. The sets, fashion, decor and general styling excite my visual brain beyond words; it’s set in a New York ad agency full of charismatic and flawed characters; it highlights and demonstrates so many socio-political issues of the time and showcases much of Western society’s recent evolution.

Mad Men ticks all the boxes for me and I haven’t even mentioned Don Draper once. The first episode I ever saw sent a thrill through me as I was immediately transported back over 20 years. It was the typewriter sounds I’d forgotten. I had an electric typewriter once and I was a Peggy- only around 25-29 years later, with less pleasing fashion and a fax machine.

To me the atmosphere was so authentic and familiar, because when I started in adland as an eighteen-year old straight from school, Big Advertising in 1989 Melbourne was not too far removed from this:

“Simple Enough for a Woman to use.”

I was already a working girl before our first office PCs arrived and the grunge movement was just around the corner waiting to explode. I am officially old, but there’s an upside: here’s  one of my favourite (typewriter related) stories from back in the day…

My first desk was the agency’s secondary reception on the media floor. I sat behind a big, high-fronted desk with my push-button phone, the in-house directory, a bunch of important contact lists, my electric typewriter and the area fax machine. (If you don’t know what a fax machine is, clearly you are too young for your own good. It’s a thing that happened between smoke signals and email.)

All the media kids were supposed to leave their faxes with me to send, but in their impatience would try to do it themselves over the top of the desk. What really burned me was when they got behind the desk with me, because I couldn’t see anyone coming out of the lift.

One day, my typewriter was jamming- I’d type, it’d stall, then blast out a few characters all in the same spot. It was ruining my work, of which I had plenty. To top things off (another eighteen year old) Aaron had arrived, parked himself between me and the desk and was all up in my personal space too.

I’d been working a few months and this was the first time I’d dared act unprofessional: “Oh for frick’s sake,” I hissed, wrestling the infuriating machine. “This typewriter’s fucked. And get your arse out of my face!”

Aaron swivelled around, eyeballed me and said quietly out of the side of his mouth:
“That was [the General Manager] who just got out of the lift.”
“Stop shitting me. I didn’t hear the lift open.”
“You were too busy swearing. Don’t be surprised if you get called to someone’s office.” (Upward inflection on ‘office’.)
“You are making that up!”
“No, I’m not, that was him!”
We went back and forth like that for a while. I didn’t believe Aaron, we’d been interned around the same time and he was a shit-stirrer from the start.

Still, doubt began to niggle at me. I wondered whether there could have possibly been any truth to it. That night I lay in bed and had a minor panic attack. What if he wasn’t lying and I was about to lose my first job?

The next morning, treading on eggshells with dread, I headed nervously to my station.

On my desk…was a brand new typewriter.

No. shit. Couldn’t wait to show Aaron. Our GM was the coolest. I fecking loved those days.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace February 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Bwahaha! That’s an awesome story, Twitch!
I had the foulest mouth in the workplace too. Never got a new PC though 🙂


Emily @ Have a laugh on me February 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm

What a great story!!! And I haven’t seen Mad Men for ages – a classic for shiz 🙂


Twitchy February 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Take a message, Miss Emily: You FIX that! 🙂

Rhianna February 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm

My neighbour has been pestering me for months to go over and watch that series with her. She too love love loves it. Great story as well you old dinosaur lol.


Twitchy February 19, 2013 at 1:50 am

Just DO IT. It starts off seemingly slow but the characters build and the fashion and politics of the time just might hook you right in!

Josefa @always Josefa February 16, 2013 at 7:05 am

That is brilliant Twitchy! A typewriter?? You are really getting me more and more curious about getting one of these for home! My parents had one way back and I was the person who had to type things for them – even took a typing class at high school – hope you looked as hot as the women do on Mad Men in that job 😉


Stuart February 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I’ve never seen Mad Men either, but I do like mad women ; )


Karen February 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I LOVE Mad Men, I go through withdrawals between seasons!!! That story is hilarious, I love that you got a new typewriter in the end, perfect ending!! x Karen


BossyMummy February 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I have a few seasons of Mad Men just waiting for me to have time to watch them. The advertising industry always seems such a cool place to work. I love what your GM did for you – very cool 🙂


Shari February 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I’ve never seen Mad Men – am I living under a rock?? But I *have* had an electric typewriter, although it was a bit fancy with its own inbuilt correction tape. Your General Manager sounds like a champ!!


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