Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Before YouTube there was the Xerox machine

The other day while I was sorting out and tossing old papers, I realized that I’m old enough to remember some stuff that has gone the way of the Cold War.

For example, I can still recall the putrid smell of purple mimeograph fluid (and the uncontrollable urge to sniff a fresh copy even though it smelled like puke).

Most of all, I remember what it was like to fuck off at work before email and the internet. Back when office correspondence came to you in a brown reusable envelope with a red string closure, nearly everyone below the rank of area manager had some sort of “copier joke” tacked to the wall in their work area.

These were usually tattered sheets that had been copied over and over so many times they were barely readable, covered in defects and spots like an octogenarian’s DNA.

At one point they were ubiquitous. You could travel from one business to another one on the other side of the country and there’d be the same blurry page taped to the side of a filing cabinet. I remember wondering who could have drawn the originals and exactly how old were they? Copiers date back to the late 1950s but the mimeograph was invented back in the 1870s.

While digging through my old papers, I ran across a small stash of these. Most of the ones I had inadvertently saved were just simple text with jokes like “Stress is the body’s reaction to resisting the natural urge to kick the shit out of someone who desperately deserves it” or compilations of made up corporate sounding acronyms that spelled out variations of the word “shit”.

There were two of these though that were universal. No matter whether you were in a government office or a warehouse you’d see these two taped up in all their yellowed glory to some cubicle.

The first of these was Snoopy’s work week. He starts out dancing on Sunday and progresses miserably through the week, slowly improving towards the weekend. Girls always had this one.

The only one of these more common than the “Snoopy at work” was “Never give up”. Say those words to anyone who remembers the first brick cell phone and this is what comes to mind: