Don't Remind Me
morning, 8:27 a.m.
am standing in the middle of the Dirt Company production room, in front
of the fax machine, holding a stack of triple-quadruple-urgent invoices
for the Corporate office in L.A. ... desperately trying to remember
which way to insert the fax into the auto feed. Does it go face up? Or
face down? Bottom edge first? Top edge first?
is not some new fancy-pants fax machine that I'm still struggling to
become fully acquainted with. This is the same decrepit Sharp F-4024
that I have used approximately 43,897,621 times per day, five days a
week, twelve months a year, -- for the past year and a half. On
given workday I could probably send a fax from this machine
blindfolded, standing on my head, with both ankles tied behind my back.
that I would want
to do such a thing, mind you: all of the
cookies would fall out of my pants pocket if I did that. But the point
is that I could
do it, should the need arise.) And yet here I
stand on this perfectly normal Wednesday morning: properly caffeinated,
well-rested, enjoying a Fabulous Hair Day ...
and utterly unable
to remember which direction the paper goes into
the fax machine.
this sort of stuff seems to be happening a lot more often than it used
to. I pick up the phone at work, and all of a sudden I can't
remember the name of the company I work for. I'm constantly trying to
remember where I left my bike gloves/my dry cleaning ticket/the other
half of my banana. I routinely forget how old I am: on the rare
occasion when this becomes an issue, I actually have to stop and do the
math on my fingers. ("2003
minus 1957 ... ") Zip Codes seem
have become a problem all of a sudden, especially when I'm shopping
online: nine times out of eleven, I absent-mindedly use my home Zip
Code when I should have used my office Zip Code -- or vice versa --
which of course doesn't match the billing information on the credit
card, causing the entire order to bounce.
even get me started
on computer passwords.
I be concerned? Should I talk to my doctor about early-onset
Alzheimers? Should I start mainlining ginko biloba? I don't know. On
the one hand, this isn't simply a matter of forgetting the name of my
ninth grade Washington State History teacher, or blanking out on the
capitol of Tonga, or trying to remember the lyrics to "Ca Plane Pour
Moi" and coming up empty. We're talking about critical *Information
Molecules* here -- the nuts and bolts of my daily life -- slipping
through the cracks of my colander-for-a-brain on an increasingly
frequent basis. It's as though the information is stored and accessible
in my memory banks one minute, and the next minute it has poofed
into the ether, like a GeoCities homepage.
the other hand, it's probably not as bad as waking up the morning
after a cheap-chablis-and-chat-room bender, trying to recall whose
marriage I may have helped to derail the night before. Things
could be a lot worse.
the meantime, I've still got to figure out how to get this fax to
Corporate ASAP. If the Accounting Department doesn't have these
triple-quadruple-urgent invoices by 9 a.m., they'll send out the
snarling Dobermans (or -- even worse -- the Junior Accounting
Administrator). The way I see it, I can either hang around here
production room for the next little while pretending to alphabetize
stuff, and wait for one of my co-workers to come in and fax something
so I can look over their shoulder and see how they do it ... or else I
take the gamble. Eventually I decide to risk it. I stuff the fax into
the machine, cross my fingers, hold my breath ... and hit *send.*
Thirty seconds of sweaty, lip-biting uncertainty, as the fax machine
dials the number in Los Angeles. A series of distant clicks and beeps.
The blinking red light turns to green. And then, finally, the invoices
begin sliding through the auto feed, one after another. Of course,
there's always a 50-50 chance that I've still got it screwed up -- that
I've fed the invoices into the machine upside-down, and now I am
sending 47 blank white pages to the snarling Junior Accounting
Administrator -- but I don't think so. Something about the sight of all
those pages sliding through the chute, face-down, jars my flagging
memory ... and all of a sudden I remember..
down, head first. I gambled
correctly, in other words.
the fax has finished processing, the machine gives a satisfied *beep*
and burps out the rest of the invoices. I pull them out of the machine
and stamp the whole packet "FAXED," then toss the hard copies into the
outgoing mail pile for tonight's California Overnight. Job completed.
Crisis averted. Before I leave the production room, however, I grab a
big yellow Post-It note and scribble
"Fax goes in face-down!"
with a black Magic Marker. This I affix to the front of the fax
machine. (If anyone asks, I'll say that it's a *helpful reminder*
for the New
Office Manager.) And then I head for the lunch room to get a cup of
coffee. I'm not going to read anything ominous into any of this. So I
momentarily forgot how to use the fax machine. So what? I figure that
these occasional bouts of *memory seepage* -- like the new wrinkles
around my mouth, the Miss-Clairol-resistant gray hair, the sudden
inexplicable nostalgia for ugly saddle shoes -- is probably just
another perfectly normal symptom of my age.
I can't remember ANYWAY
... so who cares? next
throw a rock