This afternoon I had a customer, we’ll call him Jim, who insisted that I needed to fax an invoice to him rather than email it. Like, he didn’t just ask that I sent it that way. He made it very clearly that it was the only option I had to get him the invoice. Since getting the invoice paid was, you know, the reason I called in the first place, I felt compelled to comply.
I scan a lot and I print a little, but I haven’t had to send a fax in a good eight years or so. We have one of those all-in-one copier/scanner/printer/fax things that has never really worked entirely right. It’s always emitting these strange patterns of chirps, and it likes to eat every third piece of paper I put in the feed tray. Also, we have a weird VoiP phone system where you have to dial certain numbers to get an outside line from certain phones.
Which is really all just stuff I’m telling you to distract you from the fact that I forgot how to send a fax.
I mean, I knew there was a part where you put the paper in, and then you dialed the number and the magic Internet gnomes got to work drawing a tiiiiiiiiiny (omg, so tiny) replica of your document which they then projected across the skies with their special Internet gnome flashlights in a specific pattern that only the gnomes who lived in the machine of the person you were sending the document to could decode…or whatever. But I forgot all the bullshit about having to dial 9 first, and then whether or not I needed to dial an extra 1 before the phone number, and what phase of the moon we needed to be in for this to even work and OMG it was all just such a process.
So, I re-learned how to send a fax, and that was…I wouldn’t really call it FUN, but it killed some time and therefore had value of a sort to it. I punched the right numbers in and I signed my cover sheet with a little smiley face because YAY, COMMERCE! I loaded the pages into the feeder tray and hit “send”. The machine made a satisfying amount of screechy dial-up racket and then sucked my pages through the scanner part. Assuming my part in this information transfer drama was now over with, I walked away.
But lo, all was not right in the land of the Internet gnomes, it seemed.
Several minutes after I walked away from it, the machine emitted a series of kind of mocking beeps and printed something all of its own accord. Suspicious, I approached the machine once again and looked at the print-out. It read…
…’fax not sent’.
“Awww, COME ON! I have to do that whole stupid thing AGAIN? I already shredded the originals! Goddamnit. This is why nobody faxes anymore JIM”, I grumbled.
I went back to my desk, printed out another invoice and another cover sheet. I didn’t sign the cover sheet with a smiley face the second time, because commerce is great and whatever but seriously, fuck Jim and his insistence on using outdated modes of information technology. The whole process of dialing the extra numbers and then the real number and then praying to the Internet gnomes, the whole nine yards…I re-did it all.
And once again, the bloody shitting fax didn’t go through.
I stomped back over to my desk and called Jim to ask what the deal was. Jim proceeded to tell me to…
…wait for it…
…oooh, not quite there yet, but almost…
…he told me to just email him the invoice.
It’s seriously really good that through-the-phone ear-stabbing technology doesn’t exist because I am telling you, Jim would have been bloodied in that moment. Jim would have suffered. And I would have laughed.
On the up-side, I did re-learn how to fax, though. It probably won’t be relevant to my job again for another eight frigging years, but hey…the more you know.