One day a girl got up from what she was doing and decided to start writing sentences with one space after the period. It was hard because every time she ended a sentence her thumb would hit the space-bar twice on impulse. She realized she'd have to write a lot of sentences with one space if she was going to get used to this new groundbreaking method of typing.
There was a school nearby, so she thought she'd remedy her ailment by attending an typing class. The class was made of third-graders learning to type on gateway computers. She hadn't seen a gateway in a long time, but a computer was a computer so she sat down and started working. "The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog", she typed. "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."
"You are a very good typist," the teacher told her. "Your words per minute are very high, why are you auditing this typing class?"
"Because I put two spaces after my sentences." She answered. "If I don't stop, then I'll spend the rest of my life doing ascii searches to replace my double-spaces with single ones."
"That's nonsense!" The teacher said, "It's grammatically correct to put two spaces after every sentence. It has been ever since typing was invented!"
"No, it's changed," The girl replied. "I need to learn to stop or real publishers will reject my manuscripts."
"Well, you've already ruined yourself for that!" The woman laughed, "You put two line breaks after every paragraph and never indent! Maybe you should teach yourself to stop doing that first, then you can work on the spaces."
"I'm not too concerned about that," the girl replied, "I've heard every publisher is looking for something different. The line breaks make it easy for me to make notes on roughs and easier to read on the internet. I can go through while copy editing and tailor my draft to fit requirements, it's not that big a deal."
"You treat something as glaringly obvious as line breaks flippantly yet you get your knickers in a twist about double spacing after sentences?" The teacher gawked. "You're a foolish girl. This class is not for you, you don't need to learn to type, you need your head examined."
So the girl left the elementary school defeated, but she was determined to break herself of this double-spacing habit. She went instead to the high school to see if she could learn to break her habit there.
The high school was full of hundreds of kids all writing term and exam papers. There was no typing class in the ledger, so she went to the computer lab to talk to the technician. Maybe he's had something like this happen before.
"Two spaces after a sentence?" The technician gasped, "I've never heard of such a thing! I've always put one space, how in the world did you get so stuck in two spaces?"
"I was taught that way." The girl said obviously.
"I taught myself to type," the technician said, "I had to when I started working with computers. I've always put one space and never had any trouble reading sentences or telling them apart. You were taught by idiots."
"I'm beginning to feel the same," the girls said, "Do you have any advice about who I should ask about breaking my habit of two spaces after a period?"
"Maybe you should speak to the head of the English department," the technician suggested, "He reads exams and papers all day. I'm sure he's run into kids with your problem before, maybe he has some advice."
"Thank you," the girl said. She left glad to have a lead.
The head of the English department was in a classroom grading papers. He looked up through two pairs of glasses when she knocked. "Oh! Hello there!"
"Hello," the girl greeted, "I'm looking for help with a problem?"
"What kind of problem?" the English professor asked.
"I found out recently I've been typing my sentences incorrectly all my life," she started, "I put two spaces after punctuation when I finish."
"Well that's not wrong," the teacher scoffed, "Everyone does that! It's grammatically correct!"
"Not since the typewriter," the girl told him, "with the advent of computers, type has become more evenly spaced and easy to read. No one uses to spaces anymore."
"Now see here!" The English professor said, "I read all day. I read exam papers and essays at work and read newspapers and magazines at home. One space is just not natural. If what you're saying is true, then I think I'd have noticed it being implemented in the vast amount of literature I see every day!"
"But it is implemented," the girl said. She pulled a newspaper from her bag and turned it to him. He scanned it closely, squinting hard at the page and realized that all the spaces were an equal distance apart regardless of whether there was punctuation or not. All his life he'd never noticed. He looked up to the girl in anger, "I don't believe it!"
She took her paper back, "So can you help me?"
"No!" The English professor growled, "I shall never stop using two spaces after punctuation! It is the proper way to do things! Leave my office at once!"
"But sir!" The girl protested, "I need to break myself of this habit in order to be taken seriously by the literary world!"
"Get out of my sight!" The man roared, "You're crazy and you're making me crazy too! Get yourself some mental help and never speak to me about sentences again!"
The girl left in defeat, but she still needed to break her habit of typing over-spaced sentences. She decided to go to the University.
All the staff members in the university computer labs were students working off their tuition. She asked them how they wrote their sentences.
"I always put one space after a sentence," One student told her. "Two doesn't make sense."
"Did you learn that here?" The girl asked.
"No," the student replied, "I learned that in high school when I took typing class."
"I always put two spaces after a sentence ends," another student offered.
"Did you learn that here?" The girl asked.
"No," the student replied, "I learned it in high school when I took a typing class."
"Don't your teachers here notice?" The girl asked the second student, "Hopefully the teachers at a facility for higher education such as this would notice when someone has been typing their essays incorrectly."
"No," the second student answered, awestruck, "I didn't even know it was incorrect! I just turned in my second ten-page paper, I hope the teacher doesn't count me off!"
"They won't," the girl assured him, "I've learned no one can tell."
She took to the street again, feeling completely foolish and like a total failure. There was only one stop left to make, one place that could possibly help her with her sentence problem. She made her way to see a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist was an old woman who seemed very plugged in to modern culture. She'd written many books and articles in magazines. The girl hoped she'd be able to help, so she laid on the woman's creaking leather couch and retold her story.
"So that's what's happened," the girl said, "can you help me doctor?"
"No," the psychiatrist said, "only you can help yourself. You'll have to practice writing lots of sentences with one space after the punctuation and break this habit of yours yourself. The two spaces are a muscle reflex. Break the reflex with repeated training and you're sure to be alright."
"Okay doctor," the girl agreed. "I'll go home and practice, then come back next week to show you how I've improved."
So she went away for a whole week and typed sentences upon sentences, trying to leave only one space between them. It was hard work and completely ruined the flow of the stories she was trying to tell. She had to constantly stop what she was writing and delete, but she made sure to delete the end of the previous sentence too so that she would have experience writing the period, the space, then the next word. In the end she was still making mistakes, but she'd improved her habit considerably. She wrote sentences. She wrote sentences. She wrote sentences. She wrote sentences. In a week she went back to the doctor to show her what she'd done.
"This is very good improvement!" The doctor praised. "This whole manuscript you've written is almost free of double-spaces. You've been working hard, I see. Do you feel better now?"
"A little," the girl answered, "I still feel foolish about wanting to be a writer and getting something as basic as sentence punctuation incorrect. I can't believe all the schools I've attended and all the people I've talked to haven't helped me!"
"Sometimes the world is like that," the doctor consoled, "it's the same with more than just typing. People are resistant to change, and they teach their tendencies to the next generation, keeping change from ever really happening."
"That's very wise," the girl agreed, "Thank you doctor, I don't think we need to continue these meetings."
"Hold on," the doctor bade. She pointed to the pages the girl brought with her, "The spaces are the least of you trouble! What's up with these double line breaks after every paragraph!? You're obviously clearly insane."