April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I think it’s time to get rid of our fax machine. I’m talking about my family, but I guess I can be talking about society. Why not? Though I’m not sure we can get rid of it unless everyone else agrees to do so. We’d have to get everyone on the same page. Which is ironic, because when it comes to fax machines, the page they send out looks nothing like the page you get.

We got our machine for 10 bucks on a Black Friday several years ago, back when it was worth going out for Black Friday, before they pulled it back to Thursday night and got rid of all the deals. I think it’s the oldest piece of technology still currently on my desk, and also the cheapest, but we haven’t replaced it, because it still worked, the one or two times a year that we attempted to use it, maybe. But now I’m pretty sure it’s dead, along with everything else in my house that has mysteriously died over the past nine months. There’s no dial tone, and there’s definitely nothing on the screen.

And good riddance. I have no love for that machine. It also doubled as my emergency desk phone, and I am done with picking up the phone, putting it to my ear, and hearing, “Screeeee! Waaaaah.

And then my wife says, “Oh, that’s right; I was expecting a fax.”

That’s my first issue with fax technology.

And then you would get a photocopy of the original paper, crooked and missing one whole corner of text. And sometimes, the recipient doesn’t even get a crooked paper. As the sender, you’re never 100% sure a fax actually has gone through. You have to make a call after the fax is sent: “Yeah, I don’t think fax went through; did it go through?”

“I don’t know, what did you send? Something came, but I’m not sure it’s all the pages.”

“What pages did you get?”

“I didn’t get page numbers.”

“Then how do I know what came through on your end, exactly? Can you send it all back?”

Even as the receiver, it’s confusing:

“Well, I got the page with the diagram…”

“I did not send you a diagram.”

“Oh, then I guess it’s a paper from last month’s fax that finally came through.”

“From whom?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

This is the only technology that gives us these issues.

“Did the fax go through? I tried calling your beeper, I tried telegramming you, my pigeons keep bouncing … The wind messed up my smoke signals…”

And not only do you have to call afterward, you have to call beforehand too so the person knows to look out for the fax. You never have to say, “Look out for an email.”

“Look out!”

Because if they pick up the fax line by mistake, it’s an assault on their ears.

You think it’s weird that if you want to show up at someone’s house you have to call first and if you want to call them you have to email first? With faxes, you have to call to tell the person to expect a fax and then call afterward to ask if they got the fax. You don’t even have to do that with snail mail. And sometimes you have to stay on the line the entire time for 15 awkward minutes until it even starts showing up on their end. But if you don’t stay on the line, you have to hang up and call back, and you’re never sure if it’s too soon to call back.

“Has it gone through?”


“No, or not yet?”

“How do I know?”

“I don’t know. Keep refreshing.”

“How does one refresh a fax machine?”

The only reason I even still HAVE a fax machine is that some places make us fax paperwork to them. I’m not sure why. Basically, places that are trying to keep fax machine technology going. It’s a noble effort.

Most of the time that we actually even use fax machines these days, it’s to deal with the doctor’s office. Medical offices still use faxes because they’re more secure, which is English for “You have to fax the same document to each office you’re dealing with separately every single time every single year.” And if your fax to them doesn’t go through, they will never, ever tell you. They’ll just wait two weeks and let you wonder, until the place to which you need to send the completed doctor’s form says, “We never got it. So we never registered you.”

And storage is an issue, because it takes up a huge footprint on my desk. Even the smallest fax machine has to be the width of a piece of paper, plus the width of a handset next to it. And you need room behind it for a tilted tray of blank papers, and room in front of it for the papers to come out. And there can’t be anything on the desk in front of the machine, or the machine will throw a fit. The once-in-a-blue-moon that we’re using the fax machine, we have to quickly clear out the entire surface desk in front of the machine, where several other items live, some of them plugged in, all for the machine to silently say that it’s jammed anyway. And we also need room to keep opening up the machine to clear the jams. The fax machine is always jammed—that’s its default setting. And then you open it up and look around and nothing’s jammed in there! The way you fix a jam is you open the machine, then you close it, and the machine’s like, “All right, we’re good now!”

So we’re getting rid of it. As it turns out, one of our two printers also works as a fax machine. We think. It has a phone jack on the back and a feature that says “fax.” We’re not in the mood to deal with testing it right now to find out for sure by asking someone we know who has a fax machine to fax us something just so that by the time we ever actually need to use it, we’ll have forgotten how.

Do you think the doctors will do this for us?

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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