Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Fax

I moved to Nashville in 1985, with no job and only knowing a few people. One of those few people was the receptionist at a downtown law firm, and she helped me get a job there. The job was that of a runner, meaning I ran various legal documents to such places as the courthouse and to other law offices, sometimes walking, sometimes driving my car. 

New to the city, I didn't know my way around and got lost fairly regularly, both on foot and in my car. In my early days working there, one of the attorneys sent me to a law office a few blocks away to deliver documents and even drew me a map. He then watched me from his 18th story window as I stood on a corner, below, completely confused, turning the map this way and that, trying to get my bearings (which I finally did, no thanks to his lousy map). Another time, an attorney sent me to a business to pick up a document, giving me directions to get there, which included traveling most of the way on a one-way street, but not telling me how to get back to the office, since the one-way street prevented me from retracing my route. I ended up inside a government housing project, probably the single highest crime area in the entire city, and drove around it, white-knuckled, until I found my way back out again.

So, I may have had a bit of a reputation of being a little dingy. 

One day, one of the attorneys gave me some documents and told me to take them to a business a block or so away to have them sent to an attorney out of town via telefax.

I just stared at him. Send them HOW?

I walked slowly to the business (I want to say it was FedEx, but I can't be sure about that; it's been awhile). I handed the man behind the counter my document.

He did something magical that I couldn't see, then told me it was sent.

Then he handed me the document back.

My eyes were spinning pinwheels. Inside my head, I was screaming, "WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME YOU SENT IT WHEN YOU'RE HANDING IT BACK TO ME?!"

I held the document and looked at the man, pretty sure one of us was crazy and it wasn't me. He began helping another customer, and I slowly walked back to the office.

When I got to the office, I handed the attorney the papers, waiting for him to ask me why I didn't have them sent like he had asked, and instead, he thanked me for getting them sent and put them in a file. 

I finally had to ask him how it was sent when it was right. here. He told me the information was sent over the telephone line, but I was still completely and utterly flummoxed, because any idiot knows a paper can't GO THROUGH A TELEPHONE LINE. 

And now? Now I get irritated when my iPhone doesn't load a webpage immediately.

I've come a long way, baby!


  1. If it makes you feel any better, in my first job out of college, I was told to do the same thing. Since this was circa 2008 (yes, you read that right, I was actually born the year of your story) they had a fax machine in the back room. But I remember being as dumbfounded as you, mostly because I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just scan and email the damn information.

    My dad once had a life goal to never send an email, a text or a fax. He is a plumber, and at the time he made said goal, he was working for a small mom & pop's company, so it wasn't too far fetched. Unfortunately, with the recession, he was forced to find a job with a bigger, and more tech savvy company, Within the first week they handed him a brand new smart phone, which was much different than his heavy duty Nextel work cell. I spent weeks showing him how to use his new toy and eventually the secretaries insisted that he must use text and email. All it took was for him to send his first few emails before the secretary told him he could return to handwriting his stuff out. You see, one time he sent an email, their servers had a glitch, so the poor secretary got his email over 100 times.

    Not too long after, my dad sent me his first text message.

    But thankfully, like I have told my dad several times before, I think he is safe from ever having a need to send a fax. Just like the first time I sent one, I wondered why people still used this form of technology. I know, I know, I get and understand why, but I still say he is safe from ever needing to himself.

    Long story for a comment, but there you have it. My experiences with the good ol' fax machine.

    1. My dad took the same vow as your dad. So far, so good. My parents had to upgrade their old flip phones (finally!). They can barely operate their new smart-ish phones AND THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE DATA PLANS. Can't get them to text. They freak out if they RECEIVE a text. Sigh.

  2. Heheheheheheh ohhhh bless your boots :D

  3. I read an article a while back about document runners..I guess fax isnt secure enough for some things still.

    1. It was kind of a fun job. I got to go outside a lot, and as someone who had previously taught elementary school, I really missed recess.

  4. Great story. That's funny. I have similar feelings nearly every time I am using my computer. Faster, faster, I cry as I shake my fist at the screen.

  5. Oh my gosh, I remember those days. I was trying to tell my daughter what correcto tape is for the typewriter. She was so confused. haha

    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

    1. Kids today don't know the sound of the typewriter dinging at the end of the line and the carriage returned. And I sound like I'm 80 years old when I say things like that. Excuse me while I go put in my teeth....

  6. I still don't "get" how email, fax--technology in general, actually "works"...But I use it!

    1. Thank you for that! It's all magic, as far as I'm concerned.

  7. Hahaha these are pretty funny instances. I can't help but wonder how many times you were given a job to run, and they would just watch you from their windows... placing bets or something...

    Glad you made it out of the Projects! Oh My Nuts!

    The whole faxing business was new to me, but had to learn it for special orders at my old workplace. That first time caused me a bit of anxiety (as most things do if never experiencing them before). I was cellphoneless for years and years. Eventually, the job I have now required me to have one, but it was a flip phone and no texting/web plan. Same with the company who bought the property a year and a half ago.

    But I did have a taste of a smartphone (a month's time about) two years ago I think it was. I just finally got one of my own this Winter and I text like crazy! As my friend said about his newly obtained smartphone and texting habits "I'm like a 16 year old girl!"

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

    1. I think they watched me out the window more times than I care to think about.

      That Project thing was scary. Only one way in and out, so I had to drive around the whole thing to get back out again.

      I still don't understand how the whole fax thing works (or any technology that sends images or documents). It makes my head spin, so I just refuse to think about it.

      If you're texting as much as a 16 year old girl, holy smokes, you must be on it all day and night.

  8. People still don't get it. I sent faxes for the public all the time, for the last six years or so, and every once in a while, someone would ask me to make a copy of a document and fax the copy so they don't lose the original.