letter to Greece

I needed to fax something today to a friend in Greece. But I couldn't possibly do this by myself. We have two machines in the house that of course do everything: not only are they printers and copiers but they're scanners and fax machines. They also answer your phone, babysit your kids, and put in a load of laundry if you tip them well. But I don't know the first thing about using them as anything else but printers and copy machines, and thinking I might have to learn gives me the willies. So I went down the street to one of those computing stores where they can help you with stuff like that.

The clerk takes the letter from me and just as I say, "Oh, it needs to be faxed overseas," she drops the thing like a hot potato and looks at me liked I just committed murder. "Oh NO," she says, with eyes rolling. "We don't fax ANYTHING overseas. The last time I did it, I got charged $48 for a $1 fax." In this day and age, when everyone is tweeting, twittering and I-phoning, how is it possible that I have to pay $48 to fax one piece of paper to Athens?

I may be annoyed but I'm also determined. I head down to copy place #2 and find they are happy to do it for a grand total of $8.32: $6.38 per minute for the overseas call, $1.75 for the privilege of using their fax machine, oh and don't forget the 3% fax connectivity fee. So she feeds the paper into the machine and the first time someone answers the phone on the other end. The second time, nothing. Third, nada. Can't do it, she says, adding something about international circuits being busy. So with unfaxed letter in hand, I return home just in time to hear my Athens contact leaving a message on my phone. "Just realized you were trying to fax me. The machine wasn't on automatic, so I'm leaving it on for the next hour. Sorry about that but please try again." So I get back into the car, head back to the store, the clerk feeds the thing into the machine one more time and it works. Great. I think I spent about $2.00 worth of gas and 45 minutes of my day doing this - Grand total: $10.32 and the realization that, while I have no patience for learning how to use a copier/printer for anything else than copying and printing, it's probably worth it to sit down and figure out how to use the thing that's already sitting on my desk. All this technology makes me miss those old aerogrammes that I used to send, and get, when I was living in Greece. Robin's egg blue, fold-over closure wings with sticky glue on them, and just enough room to squeeze in how miserable you were living in Athens, how much you missed your boyfriend (now husband)... with no idea that, 30 years later, these iconic sheets of paper you recorded your world on would very soon be obsolete. And replaced by fax machines.

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