I posted recently in technophobia about my mum and an issue with technology. For this post I am going back quite a few years now to the early 1980’s to when fax machines first hit the world stage.
Now my mum is actually very intelligent, just that dealing with anything more technological than a ball point pen often seems to facilitate the bringing out in her of a innate lack of common sense.
Whilst working as a school secretary my mum had a new piece of technology delivered that was supposed to help with administration between her and the local authority offices in the town. Chosen because of the school’s proximity to the council offices (why when it was an electronic communication tool should distance from base matter who knows but chosen they were nonetheless) they were actually the first school in the county with this new-fangled gadget.
The fax-machine was to speed up delivery of time critical information including end of week reports on things such as attendance figures, staff absences etc.
It was installed one morning and the installer took my mum through the basic functions and set the speed dial up. There was only one number plugged in to speed dial – in fact the school didn’t have anyone other than the council that they corresponded with that actually possessed a fax machine.
Well late afternoon came and my mum collated the necessary paperwork…wrote out a header sheet (remember this was in the days before every worker had access to a PC and printer) and followed the instructions from the installer…..
…well followed as many instructions as she remembered (to be fair I have no idea whether he missed some of the more ‘common sense’ ones out on the principle ‘that is obvious’.)
After some time and after repeating the faxing several times (actually multiple several times) my mum received a frantic phone call.
“Can you stop sending the same fax to us” the voice pleaded, “the fax roll that’s supposed to last a month has run out and there’s curled up paper all over the office.”
“But it’s not gone” my mum said ….”It’s still here”
Whatever else hadn’t registered about faxing one thing was clear in my mum’s mind.
The fax hadn’t left her office….it was still there in the fax machine tray.
I think (although she has never admitted this in public) she actually must have been under the impression that the fax machine sucked in the forms she had prepared, rolled them into very tight tubes and then shot them down to the phone line only for the receiving machine to effectively iron them flat again so the recipient could read them.
And as this hadn’t happened, as the paperwork still remained in her possession it couldn’t possibly have been delivered.
No doubt she felt very foolish at the time and would be possibly even more embarrassed at me sharing this with the world however just as the council officials did back then I believe you will too laugh with her not at her – I mean anyone could make that mistake….couldn’t they ?