Thursday, July 25, 2013


I first encountered the term paperless office shortly after I began my career at a publishing house in 1979. My project was a textbook for training secretaries; tantalizingly placed among the step-by-step instructions for performing office tasks and tips for working with “your executive,” the concept of the paperless office offered those students a peek at the future.
A few days ago my desktop computer died. If not for the laptop I bought as a backup in 2009, the one I’m typing on now, I would be sitting in a computerless office.
Luckily, I had seen the end coming and had printed out my passwords from the program that helps me keep track of them. I’d also printed a screen shot of my document folders. I’d quickly written a list of my programs on a sheet of copy paper and had even figured out what I wanted in a new computer, jotting those specs and features on a separate page.
Paper: that’s the point of today’s message. Think hard about the paperless office, because a computer has a limited life span. When mine passed into the next realm, I knew that my documents and photos were safely backed up on the Internet through a cloud service. However, the cloud backup did not include everything. Suddenly I had no e-mail archives. My Windows calendar was gone. 
I use a paper calendar for medical appointments, workout sessions, and other wellness information; however, I’ve been recording my personal appointments electronically. August 7th, I thought. What am I supposed to do on August 7th?  I could recall many of my appointments, but the significance of that date would not come to me.
Even the absence of my old computer is hard to remember. I keep turning toward the spot on my desk where I most often typed, my hands ready to connect to the keyboard--which is connected to nothing-- or reach for the mouse that isn’t there. The monitor is now dark, the peripherals unhooked.
A new computer is on the way. I have two brilliant nephews, and Jason is the one whose forte is computer technology. He came to my rescue within hours of the unfortunate demise, choosing new components to build me a fabulous computer. In the meantime, consider paper.
I, for one, am not ready for the paperless office. I love electronic gadgets and will keep up with technology as long as it fits my needs and budget, but I’ll keep buying manila folders and legal pads, too. I did manage, without a paper reminder, to remember the significance of August 7th. It’s the day the Culligan man is coming to refill my water softener.