Back in the day, when fax machines were used extensively by corporates, a funny incident happened at my workplace. I remembered this earlier today, when I heard a ringtone that sounded like a fax machine’s answering tone.
In those days my job involved a lot of communication with customers and, consequently, I had to send out numerous faxes.
Since many departments shared a fax machine, we had a runner, who would collect the documents from various units and then fax them to the respective numbers.
Our old runner had taken up a new job elsewhere, and we had a new runner, who was still learning the ropes.
He was an enthusiastic young lad with a sparkle in his eye and smile on his face.
It was a ‘business as usual’ kind of day at work, probably a day or two since the new runner had joined work. I called him to send off a fax. The process we usually followed was that once the fax was sent, the runner would come back with the document and confirmation slip, which would then be filed.
He was gone for a long time, but I had a lot of work to complete so couldn’t go and see what was taking him so long.
Just a few minutes later, I received a call from the customer to whom the fax was sent.
She was frantic and said, “I have received 20 copies of the same document. Looks like your fax machine is on auto loop or something. Can you check please?”
I ran to the communications room to find the runner still by the fax machine.
I asked him if there was a problem with the machine.
He looked puzzled and said, “I have been trying to send the letter, but it keeps coming out on the other side, I’ve tried more than 20 times.”
I burst out laughing. When I asked him, he said he was using a fax machine for the first time, and another runner had told him how to feed the document into the machine, but had not told him that the document would come out at the other end after being scanned and sent.
I explained the working to him and we shared a good laugh.