Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Threshing Machine - Wednesday
‘Oh come on, who hasn’t topped up the franking machine?’ I grumble.
‘You, probably.’ Fires back assistant manager T, cheekily. He knows I can’t work out how to reload the unit on-line, but that’s not the point.
‘There was a time when I stared in this business we didn’t have franking machines.’ I tell T sagely, as we puzzle over the convoluted instruction manual and look in vain for any sign of negotiator S returning from lunch. She knows how to top up the mailing machine remotely. T and I clearly don’t - remotely.
‘Well we won’t need a franking machine for much longer anyway.’ Opines T, as he stabs at the reset button aimlessly.
‘Why’s that?’ I ask, knowing the answer, but not liking it much.
‘Because hardly anyone doesn’t have an email address now, wait a few years for the old buggers to die off, or be shipped to nursing homes, and we can send everything out electronically.’
I’ve only just got used to having a franking machine. Technology keeps galloping past. I feel like a carthorse on a racecourse.
The door opens and trainee F rolls in, whistling in a key no musician has ever heard of.
‘Can you top the franking machine up?’ I ask plaintively
F frowns, then says hesitantly.’ I’m a bit short this month, can’t we use petty cash?’
Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me? Perhaps the world has moved on to another level and I’m some anthropological throwback just waiting for the mercy killing of extinction.
‘He means how to reload it on-line.’ Says T coming to my rescue and saving another expensive trip to the office swear box.
’S usually does it.’ Replies F unhelpfully.
‘What if she’s run over by a bus?’ I snap angrily.
‘She hasn’t been has she?’ Says F, eyes brimming up. Good God. In the office, out with pernickety punters, in the high street battling shoppers - you are sometimes never more alone than in a crowd.
‘These were new fangled not that long ago.’ I tell T and F as collectively we stare at the franking machine handbook. It might as well be written in Swahili for all I can fathom.
‘What did you do. Deliver by hand?’ Asks F to a snort of derision from T.
‘Stamps!’ I shout with more volume than I intended and a side-order of spittle. ‘We used to get A4 sheets of stamps from the Post office and fill, fold then stick.’
‘It must have been like the dark ages when you started.’ Says F after we’ve given up hearing a Fax machine screech every time we unsuccessfully tried to credit the franking machine. S will be back soon, unless the Number 10 really does wipe her out.
‘Well,’ I begin warming to a theme. ‘You didn’t just push a button and upload details to a property portal.’
T moves away, saying flatly. ‘I’ll put the kettle on.’
‘And you couldn’t take a dozen photos on a digital camera and retouch them when you got back to the office.’
‘Did you still get dustbins in the foreground back then?’ Shouts T from the kitchen, impertinently.
He knows I hate badly framed photos, with no thought taken before snapping. Company cars in the picture, or the numpty taking the photo reflected back in a window, are two other pet hates.
‘We used to have a film company collect the 35mm rolls every day and bring them back twenty-four hours later.’ I tell F, as he stifles a yawn. ‘So you had to make sure you got a good shot or you ended up with fifty sticky-backed mini-prints to go in the bin.’
‘Did you have one of those retro black and white numbers?’ Asks F, seemingly interested again.
‘He means Polaroid, the instant ones.’ Says T plonking two mugs of grease-flecked tea on the desk.
‘I did as it happens.’ I answer dreamily. Fondly remembering the huge plastic cameras and the excitement of waiting for the pull out print to develop.
‘Good for revenge porn shots and selfies?’ Asks F lewdly.
Never more alone.