I’m a big fan of common sense. This story does not contain very much of it.
I was working for an attorney in the mid-to-late 90’s. Fax machines were the newest thing in office equipment. The paper was a roll of waxy paper that fed through the machine where the stuff being faxed was written (the magic part). Each fax machine had its own supply of paper.
When you tore the paper off after a fax came through, you used a cutter thingy like you see on aluminum foil boxes. That wasn’t very helpful since I have a history of wrestling with the foil box and eventually pulling the whole roll out and not using the cutter thing at all.
After somehow tearing the paper off the fax, then came the fun part of individually cutting the pages apart. And if that wasn’t enough fun, then you had to rub them backwards on the edge of a table to get them to lay somewhat flat and not return to their original shape while on the roll.
Those of us of a certain age will remember doing this to Polaroid pictures. It wasn’t that much fun then, either.
When the roll got to a certain point, it would have a reddish stain down the middle of it. This was to tell you that the paper was about to run out and it was time to put a new roll on. Kind of like the paper in an adding machine or cash register.
I did not like the fax machine because it took a lot of work with little return. At that time, the courts would not accept anything faxed. For an attorney’s office, that wasn’t very helpful.
One day I was alone in the office, working away, when the phone rang. It was the secretary of another attorney in town. She was mad.
“I just got your fax,” she huffed. “You need to change your paper.”
“What?” was my professional reply.
“You need to change your paper. It’s got a red streak on it.”
“No, that’s your paper. It’s on your fax machine. My paper doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
“Listen, you need to change your paper because my boss can’t have this red ink on these documents.”
“Check your fax machine and you’ll see that it’s almost out of paper.”
She was really worked up by now. “No!” she practically shouted at me. “It’s not my fax. It’s your fax and you need to fix it!”
I sighed, trying to make a decision. Should I keep arguing with her or should I take the short route and just agree with her?
Didn’t take much thought.
“OK,” I said. “I’ll take care of it.”