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America, let’s make this a fax-less recovery

May 11, 2011

The Coffee Run header“The Coffee Run” is a weekly satirical column. Any advice presented here will probably ruin your career, break up your marriage and suffocate your goldfish.

A fax machine

Why is this still in my presence?

By Alex Braun

If there is one thing I find particularly disturbing about the way America does business – apart from Donald Trump – it has to be our enduring reliance on the fax machine.

I remember my first encounter with a fax machine, on Take Your Offspring to Work Day 1994 or so. At the time, I was super hyped to be getting the day off school, until I realized that spending a day in a commercial real estate office was clearly a less desirable scenario.

As I stared at the lone mechanical inhabitant of one empty cubicle near the hallway, I wondered what kind of sicko dreamt up a printer with a damn telephone on it. Real office printers were badass, because they had scanners with blinding lights and a Xerox mode that could make copies of your face. The only cool thing fax machines could do is make prank calls where the other person picks up and all they hear is a screaming modem sound. Actually, that is pretty awesome, but for some reason I hadn’t thought of it yet.

Never could I have imagined that … in two thousand friggin’ eleven, I would have to be wrangling one of these bad boys at my own office.

I figured the fax machine at my dad’s work was just some piece of junk from the Disco/Cocaine Era that nobody had taken home or thrown out yet because it was too heavy and ugly. Never could I have imagined that some 16 years later, in two thousand friggin’ eleven, I would have to be wrangling one of these bad boys at my own office, trying to figure out what in the #!%@ the “Super-Tel Index” button is trying to communicate.

It’s bad enough that I’m not managing a space station or dinosaur park right now. This just adds insult to injury.

Can we not just scan and PDF stuff? Are there people out there who can speak to and understand the fax machine, but don’t know how to set up a Gmail account? Do you like being serenaded by that hideous demon noise? (“skarEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE eeeeeeeeeYRRRhhhhh …”)

As long as we stay chained to these paper-gobbling hellions, we’ll never be able to compete with the world’s rising economies. In Dubai and Beijing, they’re probably teleporting whole annual reports with three copies of each sales rep included. Meanwhile, we’re hanging up on our own documents because we forgot to dial “9” for a number outside the system.

You tell me how that makes sense. I look forward to reading your scanned documents.

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