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GUEST COMMENTARY: This Is My Rifle … I Mean, Keyboard.

In my career selling auto parts, a keyboard is the closest thing to a weapon I have ever wielded.


Mandy Aguilar is regional vice president of Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Parts House. He is a regular contributor to Counterman magazine, where he writes about technology in his "Counter-Tech" column. Visit his blog at

I’m not really military material; not big on aggression, never owned a
gun (much less fired one). I can’t even fire a gun accurately when
trying to keep up with my son battling aliens or zombies online on his
Xbox with uber-digital machine guns nicknamed “Plasma Pistol” and “The
Mauler.” On the other hand, I do love war movies, especially movies
about Vietnam. That war played in the background while I grew up during
the 60s in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. I didn’t really understand much
about the world. But, I somehow knew there was a war, and I remember Mom
saying I was lucky to not be 18 just yet. Grayscale images of Vietnam
played on our family’s first TV every night my parents watched the news.

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a big fan of British movie director Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick’s movies
resonate deeply with me, with the way I eventually learned about the
world after the bliss of youth back in Mayagüez. Kubrick was a genius;
not really prolific, but a genius nonetheless. He directed just 16
movies in his long career; lucky for me, four of those films dealt with
wars and the military. His love for the cinema took us from ancient
Greece in “Spartacus” to fox holes on WWI in “Path of Glory.” He showed
us the comedy of war through Central Command on “Dr. Strangelove,” and
took us from training to the frontline in Hanoi, along with a band of
Marines, in “Full Metal Jacket.”


That Vietnam War opus is one of
my favorite movies of all time. There is a scene in which the drill
sergeant makes the grunts recite the Marine’s Rifleman’s Creed, a basic
part of U.S. Marine Corps training. I’ve
seen the movie so many times, I’ve memorized the first few lines of the Rifleman’s Creed:  “This is my rifle.

are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It
is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without
me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.”


In my career
selling auto parts, a keyboard is the closest thing to a weapon I have
ever wielded. There has been a keyboard on my desk at every auto part
job I ever had; from telex machines, to enterprise systems, PCs,
smartphones and tablets — good ol’ QWERTY have been at the beck and call
of my fingertips since day one.

Just think about all the things
we do to sell parts, and how a keyboard is right there with us. Catalog
lookups, price checks, invoicing, placing orders, composing emails to
employees and vendors, texting customers back with answers, entering
passwords to log in to eCommerce sites, writing awesome columns for Counterman magazine; if someone took all of our keyboards away, we might as well close shop.


salespeople and counter personnel usually have pretty decent typing
skills; I see this every day. Guys and gals who hate typing communicate
less in our new world paradigm of emails, text and chats. And in
people who communicate less tend to sell less. I have no empirical data
on the average typing speed of people in the auto parts industry, but
boy, do we type a lot! Maybe we hit the 40-word-per-minute average for
adults in professionals environments, or maybe some of us ramp it up to
the 8,000 keystrokes per hour that several data-entry jobs require; but,
at any speed we need those keystrokes to move inventory out the door.


have dealt with some collaborators who are so spartan with their
keystrokes, you often wonder if someone charges them a dollar for every
letter and number they key in. Their messages are more like a riddle and
create more questions and mysteries than the first chapter of an Agatha
Christie novel. How I wish these guys learned to love their keyboard
like I love my rifle, uh, I mean my keyboard.

So all of you
typing grunts out there, recite after me: “This is my keyboard, there
any many like it, but this one is mine. My keyboard, without me, is
useless. Without my keyboard, I’m … well I might not be useless, but
it’s certainly going to be hard to sell auto parts without it!”