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  • Paul Davidson

Today’s Prognosis on Career Faxers

Career Faxers (kar-eer fahx-ahrs: noun): One who spends at least two-thirds of their day in an office of some kind, standing by the fax machine. USAGE: That career faxer is such a career faxer that I can’t quite get my head around that career faxer’s goal in being a career faxer like the other career faxers I’ve met in my life.

There are people out there who are skilled at making 30 second jobs last an entire day. One such person is the career faxer — a curious office worker who takes dialing seven to ten numbers and placing a piece of paper (face down) in the to-be-faxed tray and transforms it into a job that you’d think you should have gone to college for. After watching the career faxer in the wild (i.e. office), I have broken down just how a career faxer can do this.

The Approach: Career Faxer approaches machine, listens for dial tone or dialing. If there is any activity currently going on, career faxer must figure out what activity is actually happening. Where is this fax that our career faxer had no involvement in actually going? Printing out the log will possibly help enlighten said career faxer. Is it long distance? If so, career faxer may be waiting a bit before being able to fax his or her own fax. After about 20 minutes of determining the current fax activity, our career faxer can move onto the next step.

Preparing the Fax: Now that the current activity of said referenced fax station has been identified, our career faxer must preapre the fax. This requires hand-writing the cover sheet. To the career faxer, amazing penmanship is extremely important. This means printing in all uppercase, spacing the letters out perfectly and being sure to double and triple check details that will be appearing on said cover sheet like the date, time, number of pages (which the career faxer will count many times for fear of getting the actual count wrong — is it 3 pages WITH the cover or without?), the name of the person it is going to (a quick call to said recipient to double check numbers and spelling kills about 15 minutes) and double-checking to make sure that the paper is of the correct width. If the paper is too thick, the career faxer could have trouble on his/her hands.

Putting the Fax In the Fax Slot: A key phase in the career faxer’s master-plan. Some fax machines require the document to be face down. Others require it to be face up. Which one is this fax machine, the career faxer always wonders aloud. To elicit sympathy from other office-workers who were (previously) annoyed that the career faxer is always away from his or her desk faxing, this question throws the others off their game — making them think to themselves, “Hey, that guy is really working hard today asking the important questions.” A poll will then ensue — career faxer will ask everyone in the office, while making small talk, about which way the fax machine actually accepts documents. Having a friend or two approach the fax machine to show career faxer the little imprinted picture (which illustrates which way to put the paper in) will also kill time. When career faxer is satisfied that said paper is facing the right direction, he or she can then spend a little time making sure the pages are stacked correctly so that there will not be a misfeed. Because misfeeds or double-feeds are BAD.

Dialing the Number: Dialing the number is the most important phase of the career faxer’s 5 hours at the fax machine. Is the number long distance? Does it require a 1 before dialing? Must one dial a 9 to dial out of the office building? Is the area code correct? Does the fax machine have enough memory to handle the document in case something is currently faxing? Here, the career faxer improvises to turn this step into a 30 minute process. If a fax is currently going through and the document-to-be-faxed is more than 3 pages, the memory may not hold said fax. Career faxer must wait, instead of coming back later for fear of never finding another open window throughout the day to fax, and THEN lunge for his faxing time. Usually, no matter if there is a fax or not currently going through, career faxer will wait, fiddling with the plastic-covered slide-out speed dial phone number list (that is often affixed below the front of the fax machine) for about 12 minutes before placing the documents in and dialing the number.

The Actual Faxing: The actual faxing highlights our career faxer’s amazing eye-hand coordination as he/she must stand there, while each page goes through — catching each one before it hits the ground or lands in the “I’ve been faxed tray.” The career faxer must guide, manually, each page as it goes through the machine so it does not get pulled through on an angle. “Angles are bad,” says the career faxer. Usually, if you approach the career faxer during this phase, the career faxer will often launch into a story from the yesteryear of his faxing life, telling you about the time that two pages went through at the same time, or one got pulled through on an angle — causing the recipient to not be able to read said pages. And how said angled-pages that could not be read caused a huge business problem that was never solved. The career faxer, for this reason, must take the next 20-25 minutes sheparding each page through like a baby from the womb. (Yes, like a baby from the womb.)

Post-Coital Fax: Now that the career faxer has prepared, double-checked the numbers, hand-written the cover sheet, figured out just how to feed the pages, dialed the numbers and fed the pages through by hand — he/she is in possession of the completed fax — which may or may not be currently going through to the recipient. For if said pages were put into memory, career faxer must now wait for the machine to dial. But why isn’t it dialing? Sometimes, pages disappear into the fax’s brain never to return and never to be faxed. This is a huge concern of the career faxer, who will now spend 5-10 minutes printing out status reports from the internal mega-brain of the machine in order to determine just where in the process his/her fax is currently waiting. Somewhere in between 5-8 minutes, while printing out the status reports, the fax machine will try to fax but will be unable to do so because career faxer is using the fax to print out status reports. Silly career faxer!! When the career faxer has let the machine take a breath — it will then begin to actually fax the document.

Is That A Normal Dial Tone? Now, the career faxer will listen intently to the sounds coming from the machine. Career faxer will engage the rest of the office for the length of the current fax in wondering if what he/she’s hearing is actually another fax communicating or could it be just the single fax looking for a signal? Did the dial tone sound right? Sometimes the career faxer will prompt a co-worker to pick up the handset of the fax machine and listen, which will most often derail the current fax and require career faxer to return to the beginning of the phase, which will easily add 30 more minutes to the process. But assuming not, the career faxer is possibly close to the end.

The Completed Fax Beep: When the fax machine has finished transmitting the document, career faxer will double and triple check that the fax has gone through. This involves printing out three different reports. One, which is a completion report, showing that the fax machine connected and sent the pages. The second, is a page report — confirming that the exact amount of pages went through. The third is a report of the entire history of the fax machine and all its completed faxes, which goes back as far as the fax machine can remember, and which takes a good 5 minutes to print. The career faxer does not need such a report, but it adds to the thoroughness of the act. Which, in the career faxers mind, is extremely important.

The Wrap Up: Now having covered all his/her bases and eaten up a good hour or two through the process, the career faxer must now wrap up the process. This involves creating a folder for the completed fax which requires finding the right sized manilla folder, using a small labelmaking machine to create a perfect label for said folder, finding a hanging folder and creating a clear plastic tab for said hanging folder and making space for the new folder, the hanging folder it will hang in, and the completed fax, in a drawer somewhere. While doing this, sometimes, the career faxer will go back and re-arrange previous fax folders so that (in case of any questions) there will be more than enough answers.

Epilogue: Now having taken a good couple of hours to prepare, fax and complete the process for one measley little fax, the career faxer can get back to the Internet and reading blogs. It will keep him/her looking busy (while periodically switching back and forth between an Excel spreadsheet) until the next fax is ready to go.

For really, isn’t that what the career faxer is all about?

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