I want all of you to know that today I sent my first fax.

To be honest, fax machines have kind of frightened me. By the time I was employed in a job that used technology, scanners and email were the most frequently used methods of communication, and faxes seemed so…primitive.

But apparently, faxes are not primitive. In fact, they’re fantastically modern, and altogether amazing. You stick a paper in, dial a phone number, and somewhere else in the world, the exact same paper shows up! If you’ve never sent a fax, try it now!

This week I started working as a Customer Service Representative at the BYU Independent Study office. Training officially lasts two weeks, which I guess means that I’ll be completely certified at the end. I can’t imagine why else they’d take so long, especially since I work every weekday. Yesterday morning I was supposed to start the online tutorials…and I guess that was expected to take me at least two full workdays. I actually finished in two hours. (What can I say? I’m a fast reader.) So when I was assigned a Trainer whose calls I could listen to, she asked what day of training I was on. “Um. One?” Yep, I impressed everyone. And went through the same thing today. “This is only your second day and you’re already listening to calls?” Um. Yes?

The best thing (?) about the job is that the software we use is that it’s a DOS program requiring dot and r commands. To move between fields on the current screen, you type .11, for instance, and moving to a new screen means you type r6. I’d like to say that it’s painfully slow, but in reality, I’ve used much more modern programs that are just as bad. Or worse.

So far, the calls aren’t too bad. It looks like we go to other departments (further back in the office) whenever we can’t answer a question; today I met a girl named Mika…who has the unfortunate pronunciation of Micah. What’s really funny is that I applied for a job in her department as well as in the call center. Thank goodness we aren’t quite coworkers. That could get confusing.

And now, a story for those of you who are computer literate. A woman called in yesterday, somewhat panicked and more than a little bit frustrated. Her daughter is in high school and is signed up for an online English course. The daughter went to take the first quiz, which said it was open book, and during the quiz clicked on the sidebar menu to look up an answer in the online material. Then she tried to go back to the quiz, but got a message saying she could only take it once. Now, you probably see the problem — you can’t just go to a new page during the quiz and expect it to let you come back, if it’s set to only allow one login to the quiz. So my Trainer explained that they should just open a second window for looking at the lesson material, and we would reset the quiz. But the poor woman had no idea what it meant about opening a new window, and said that it was unfair to call it “open book” if not everyone can open another window. It took a great deal of patience and “Move your mouse up to where it says File” sort of directions before she got everything worked out.

Sometimes I’m really taken aback by how technologically illiterate some people are. But I suppose I can’t say much. I just learned how to fax at the ripe old age of 23.


5 Comments on “Milestone”

  1. Romgi says:

    Congratulations! I am not sure if I have ever used a fax… I think I did when I was a TA for Mr. Burke’s class. I DID get to use one of those ancient photocopiers that could only do stuff in purple, and I got to use a typewriter a bit when I was his TA.

  2. KHL says:

    Hey, my new printer has a FAX on it. My favorite part is how it sucks in the paper just like a real copier (etc). But so far, only one person has had a chance to use it, and it wasn’t me.

    Congratulations on the new job. It sounds like fun except the dealing-with-people part.

  3. Mr Burke's Class says:

    Wow, Romgi, that’s history—Mr. Burke was my teacher when I went to that high school! He must be old. So must I. Dang.

  4. Katie says:

    I was thinking about the old people being technologically illiterate. This lady said to me today, “It’s all about learning to think in a new way, I’m used to doing EVERYTHING by hand!” I thought that was really strange, because I think computers are so intuitive. But if you are used to just doing everything by hand, maybe it is hard to realize you have to click on a button to show mark-up changes on your document, or change the color of the font, etc. If you are used to just changing pens, I can maybe see how that would feel weird…maybe…

    BTW, I think faxes are cool because you don’t have to copy it to put in the file, you get to keep the original! :o)

  5. Bethany says:

    I used a fax machine quite often at my last job. I loved using it but could not figure out how it worked! What I mean is, how in the world did the writing on my paper magically appear at someone else’s fax machine by only using a phone line! Then I looked at and it explained (if I remember correctly) that a fax looks for the dark spots (writing) and light spots (no writing) and sends it through as 1’s and 0’s….I THINK. Don’t quote me…I’ve probably mixed something up.

    Congrats on your new job!! I miss work but only for the people interaction…Which is a little hard to come by with two babies!

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