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TeensJust the Fax Ma'am
By James Snyder

For years, I smugly prided myself as a non-fax machine person. I felt it beneath my dignity to own such a technical contraption. The quill is more my style than a computer, but, being practical, I reluctantly use a computer, casting wistful glances at the dust gathering on my quill.

Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, it is necessary to fax some letters or documents to someone in some odd part of the world. I don't like it, but that's just the way it is.

On the rare occasion when I must fax some document at an office supply store, I usually sneak in the back way. It has been my experience that when the fax man seeth me cometh, he always raises the price per page. This is just a small service he does for Yours Truly.

Then, when paying for this service, the fax man usually says with an impish grin, "When are you going to get a fax machine of your own?"

I always flash a smile back at him, but if he knew the thoughts in my head, he would charge me more per page. Silence truly is golden, especially for the person exercising the virtue.

Actually, I don't trust machines. I know a mind somewhere is controlling all of these machines--a menacing, mischievous mind dedicated to the simple task of messing up my life.

I knew that when I eventually broke down and bought a fax machine, someone would invent something to replace it, and I would have another antique on my hands to put alongside of my Underwood typewriter and boxes of 8-track tapes.

This notwithstanding, I ended up buying a fax machine several weeks ago. I didn't want to, but I had no choice in the matter.

My printer finally went the way of all printers. I hated to see it go. The left side was cracked where Noah, the original owner, dropped it. For years, it served me quite well. My next printer will have a big ink cartridge to fill.

I hate buying replacement equipment. Rarely is the new any better than the old, just more expensive, not to mention complicated. But, necessity is the stepmother of all complications in life, and I set out to buy a new printer.

I resolutely did not want to buy a fax machine. Under no circumstance did I want to buy a fax machine. Therefore, I ended up buying a fax machine.

It is impossible to buy a printer anymore. In order to buy a printer you must buy a machine that prints/copies/scans/faxes. I think it's a pretty sneaky way to get me to buy a fax machine. Someone "out there" is set on me owning a fax machine even though I don't want to own one.

This new machine does everything but vacuum the interior of my car. But it was the cheapest machine I could find.

I bought the machine, but determined not to use the fax part. After all, somebody has to stand up for what they believe. Not everybody should succumb to the latest trend.

I was doing fine until ending up in the hospital. When I got out, I needed to fax a document to the hospital, which left me with a taxing dilemma. Do I go to the office store and fax my document, or do I try out my new printer/copier/scanner/fax machine?

Precedence finally gave way to convenience. I took my document to my new machine and figured out how to fax it to the hospital.

Not being confident in my technical knowledge, I called the hospital office to check on the faxed document. Much to my surprise, the person on the other end said, in a very cheery voice, "Yes, I have the faxed document right here in my hand."

I must admit, although I hate doing so, faxing from my house was much easier than going to the office store.

I now knew how to fax a document anywhere in the world, but I had nothing to fax to anyone in the world. I just stood there looking at my machine trying to think of something to fax.

Even though I knew how to fax a document, I still did not know how to receive a fax.

Several days ago, a friend called and said he had a document he wanted me to have right away. He then asked the ominous question, "Do you have a fax machine?"

I began to say no, but hesitated and confessed that I did, but did not know how to receive faxes. It was humiliating to make such a confession, but it was true.

"It's simple," he said, "hang up the phone and I'll dial again and let the machines talk to one another."

This caused no small discomfort. To think these machines are talking to one another is most disturbing. What are they saying about me behind my back?

Now that I come to think about it, I have heard sounds similar to snickering coming from the general direction of my printer/scanner/copier/fax machine. I don't mind Big Brother watching over me, but I do mind some machine making jokes with other machines about me.

When it comes to "new things," God is the master. This is what He promises to do for us: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV.)

Put that in your printer and fax it.
James Snyder has been a Christian pastor for 30 years. During that time he has written six books and hundreds of articles and essays. Currently, Rev. James writes a weekly syndicated religious humor column. You may write to James via the Letters page of this magazine.
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