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Friday, December 7, 2012

At the Sound of the Tone, It Will be Time to Run Screaming Down the Hall

I’ve been trying to send a fax most of the day; and like someone dragging a vacuum over the same stretch of uncooperative string on the carpet convinced that, eventually, the string will be sucked up, I return the same three sheets of paper to the fax machine thinking that this will be the time...

Some call it persistent. Others call it job security. I prefer to think of it as “paid by the hour”.

I’ve called the company to whom I’m faxing twice now.

“Your fax machine isn’t picking up.”

“Are you sure?”

Am I sure? What, do I look like someone appearing before a Grand Jury to you? Of course, I’m sure! I put the sheets in, I dial the number provided, the machine emits a high-pitched busy signal for a length of time just short of that necessary to drive one deaf, and then it spits out a sheet of paper that says “No answer – zero pages transmitted”.

I’m sure already!

And then I do it again.

Ack. I miss the mail.

I miss the tangibility of the mail.

I’m at that awkward age, you know. Sure I’ve been an unwitting tool in the computers’ take-over of the world, but I also have indistinct memories of using carbon paper to make duplicate copies on the typewriter, of weeping after typing a full page of a business letter only to finish it with a slip-up: Yous Truly…

Remember when the mail came? You opened it, sorted it into various piles, ransacked it for free pens or calendars, tossed the junk and proceeded from there.

Not so now. Now the “mail” comes in all day long. Never a wasted moment here! My e-mail is trying to get me to enlarge my penis, the fax machine has become an audible Rorschach test designed to measure my stamina and I believe there are plans to make the bathrooms more cost-efficient, maybe by installing flat-screen TVs with round-the-clock CNN transmission or treadmills or something.

I may be exaggerating that last part.

I’m going to now attempt, as I have all day, to fax three sheets of paper. The company on the receiving end assures me that their machine is up and running.

I can do nothing but trust that they are right this time.

Because if they’re not? And it doesn’t go through yet again?

Sigh.

I’ll be forced to do re-dial until it does.

37 comments:

Suldog said...

Oh, yes, carbon paper. The best was when you made the mistake of putting in backwards. You got a double-sided letter with a reverse image on the back. Good times.

ellen abbott said...

I never fax. Scan and email only.

Shelly said...

The one technological thing I am still upset we don't have are air cars like the Jetsons flew. All else will be trivial to me until I can pilot one of those cars.

And Pearl, you have a penis?

Pearl said...

Suldog, I had forgotten about that!

ellen, we have another machine one floor up that will scan. I may have to go there...

Shelly, not anymore. :-)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

carbon paper, mimeographs, white out, corecto tape, multiple copies, loosening the platen to get it all in.....yikes.....that pink smelly stuff we used to correct the stencils we cut on our typewriters... I love the computer age, faxes, photo copiers, scanners..there is hardly any work to work any more.

Simply Suthern said...

Somewhere out there stuck in a phone line is a stack of misfit FAX's waiting to be collected.

Geo. said...

High-pitched busy signal? No answer? This may be the beginning of a new religion. Nothing to worry about; they all run fine after a while.

haphazardlife said...

I hate faxes. Now I just PDF stuff and email it to the person who should be getting it. Much more efficient...

Mitchell is Moving said...

Ugh! I don't miss those days of unsuccessful faxing. However, I'm surprised your office doesn't have a machine that stores the scan in memory and keeps trying, so you don't have to do it over and over again. What a pain in the...

P.S.: Have you tried to enlarge your penis? If so, did it work?

Leenie said...

I don't think you're exaggerating about the CNN transmission in the bathrooms. They're everywhere else. Why not annoy the world with biased views in one more place?

As for the faxing---you might want to hit the boss up for a scanner on your floor--or tell the him/her you enjoy collecting pay for printing,“No answer – zero pages transmitted”. on more company paper.

Buttons said...

Focus on paid by the hour:) that is all I got. B

Simply Suthern said...

Enlarging by mail order might be the best bet as using the enlarging feature on the copier can be a bit sketchy and not very effective. I would bypass the document feeder as it jams easily and by all means disable the stapler function.

vanilla said...

Ah, the wonderful life of the office worker. "Hers not to reason why; hers but to do or die."

George Turnbull said...

Pigeons Pearl!

You need pigeons!

Craver Vii said...

I feel the same frustration with failed fax attempts.

I sure love to go "old school" and use a typewriter now and then. We use it sometimes for mailing labels, or to add information to pre-printed stickers. I use all fingers when I type, and though I don't know how fast I am, this electronic typewriter makes me sound super-fast, especially when it double-bangs for bold text!

Douglas said...

May I pontificate a bit? You see, things like this were once my forte', my raison d'etre, the highlights of my (alleged) work day. First, you should know that whatever was at the number you entered into your fax machine did, indeed, "pick up." That is why you heard/hear that annoying tone. Why the fax did not go through could be one of a few reasons but the primary two are:
1. You entered the wrong number.*
2. The receiving fax machine has no paper.

I once had a fax machine at a realty office repeatedly call my home phone and eventually threatened to come down there and personally destroy the machine before their eyes.

*This may not be your fault and you can blame the other company for providing you with the wrong number. Sometimes this works even if you are guilty of transposing a couple of digits.

TexWisGirl said...

yous truly. ha ha ha! :) those were the days!

jenny_o said...

I'm at that awkward age, too - I recall using a whole box of letterhead to type a one page letter (with 3 carbon copies). I had the world's most patient boss. But I can't recall ever having to type one of those suckers again :) (I was merely the backup typist)

I luuuurve my computer/keyboard for that very reason.

My condolences on the errant fax machine. Can you try from a different machine in case there's something wrong with the one you've been using?

Joanne Noragon said...

Mimeograph stencils that went on the mimeograph machine on which we cranked out untold service manuals and other information. The stuff used to correct and redo a misspelling could kill you, and the ink in the actual machine would.

Roshni AaMom said...

You could always make a paper airplane and throw it over to them! :P

Ms Sparrow said...

I remember when our company got its first fax machine back in the late 80's. It was up in the legal dept. so it was a really big deal to go up there to send a fax--sorta like going to Mt Olympus.

savannah said...

sadly, i am of the age where i remember telex machines. *sigh* xoxoxox

Red said...

I'm sure many will share your frustration. On the other hand you show that the old system wasn't always foolproof either.

Linda O'Connell said...

Oh my goodness you had me at enlarge your penis...and the fax machine and I had a dispute yesterday, OR the editor is actually ignoring me. You always make me laugh.

Raajii said...

Ah - I can so relate to this - when fax machines (or scanners) dont work, there goes your day :-).

Gigi said...

I vaguely remember carbon paper and I am SO glad it's gone. Get friendly with the IT folk and ask for a scanner; it's the only way to go. Our fax machine is currently collecting dust.

Daisy said...

I've had a few go-rounds with fax machines too. They can be obstinate creatures. I remember carbon paper too. I can't say as I miss it. :D Have a nice weekend, Pearl!

The Elephant's Child said...

Fax machines are tricky beasts. I don't like their siren call when they dial me at home either. And yes, I remember carbon paper. And manual, not electric typewriters.

jeanie said...

I actually had to send something to a company that didn't have email OR a fax number recently. I know!! In this day and age...

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Oh how I hated carbon paper, you could never get the blue off you fingers and everything you touched had your finger prints on it.

My favorite keys on the computer are backspace and delete.

Eva Gallant said...

Whiteout and carbon paper...nightmares of the past!

Rose L said...

(I did not know you had a penis)
I miss mail. I would save the stamps and have quite a collection.

Tempo said...

If you had sent it snail mail it would have been there already....

Murr Brewster said...

I haven't worked in an office-office for 35 years and don't know from fax machines, but now I have one squatting (looming, hunkering) on my desk not eight inches away. I just wanted a printer/scanner but I got a fax machine too, and it scares the shit out of me. I know it's going to ask me for my soul when I'm off my guard, and it won't give me a thing for it--it will just try to transmit it and then it will lose it. I will be punching numbers in to eternity and there will be no getting it back.

River said...

Their machine may be up and running but have they loaded it with paper?
Send it by courier. COD.

esbboston said...

So Pearl spent a good (?) part of Pearl Harbor Day unsuccessfuLLy faxing? My question: Was it a machine on either end manufactured in Japan? That could possibly eXplain everything. (When I first realized that it was Pearl Harbor Day my first thought was you. Interesting. My whole life every December 7th it was always some picture of destruction of 1941 that would float into my lil ole bwain, but this year it was your iconic smile. Ah, that was a nice positive.)

Pat said...

Life used to be so simple. Now it's just me.