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My steno Cinderella story

By Sarah Maksim

When I was a student just starting to learn my theory, I was given a writer that I’m sure most of you have written on at some point or another. It was dark green with an old pull-out metal tray. The tripod was made out of steel, and the whole thing weighed a ton. Part of me thought this was just some hazing prank that I had to go through to get the nicer writers, but, no, this was what I and the rest of my classmates were stuck with. While I was progressing through my theory classes, I fell in love with court reporting and developed a love/hate relationship with my writer, which I nicknamed The Avocado. (For the sake of this story, I wish I would have nicknamed it the Pumpkin.)

While everyone was upgrading to the newest and best models, I was still inking my ribbon and reading from paper and dreaming of the day when I could write on those magical paperless models. I would tell my boyfriend how much I dreamed for the newest and greatest electric, paperless student writer and how sick I was of typing up my paper notes on a computer. I was so beyond the archaic methods of the past and yearned for the efficiency of the future.

A few years went by, and I found myself plodding away in my first speed building class. I came home from a productive day at school to find an envelope on my bed. I didn’t order anything so, as you can imagine, I was surprised to see my name written on the package. Dan, my boyfriend, told me to open it. Inside, I found the student version of the CAT software I wanted inside! I squealed with excitement, but in my head I was thinking, “He is a computer programmer. Didn’t he know that I use a manual writer?” Still, he was being so sweet! I was so thankful and overjoyed. I promised him that I would start learning all the bells and whistles right away so when I was able to afford an electronic writer, I could start using it with ease. He looked at me with confusion, as though he didn’t even think about my writer, then acted confused and upset that he made such a rookie mistake.

I’ve got to tell you that when I’m well into my golden years, I think I will be able to remember those next few minutes with perfect clarity. He then went into the closet and pulled out a much larger box. My eyes widened, my heart was racing, and I had to sit on our bed due to shock. He let go of the package, and it plopped in front of me on the bed. He then handed me a pair of scissors. “Open it,” he told me.

As I examined and opened the box, I started seeing familiar logos on the package and leaflets promoting the company’s newest professional writer at the time. I just thought they were advertising their newest and best to the lowly indigent student, but then I was able to see it. I was receiving the full-blown professional writer! I screamed as loud as a teenager in a boy band stadium! As a tech nerd, I secretly had my heart set on this particular model when I graduated school, but now I was holding it in my hands — bright, shiny, and new! I felt like I was given the keys to a Formula One car and was told to go racing.

To top it all off, Dan then explained that he called my school to know which theory I was using so that he was able to pick the correct key pad setup for my writer. After I got everything working the way I wanted it to, I was passing tests and flying through the next few speed levels faster than I ever thought I could!

I never thought in a million years that I would have a fairy-tale moment like this. I got to experience the joy of seeing my pumpkin (in this case, The Avocado) turn into a sleek, brilliant steno chariot, all thanks to my fairy boyfriend!

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that seven years later, I have graduated court reporting school, passed my tests, got my California state license, and celebrated my second wedding anniversary with Dan. I feel comfortable saying that he and I are both living happily ever after!


Sarah Maksim (Stenoariety) of Santa Clara, Calif., is a freelance reporter and participating member of NCRA. She can be reached at