What People Did at Work All Day Before Email

So I’ve started pitching stories to other websites and…crickets. BUT, what that means for you guys, lucky readers of my blog, is that whenever a story is rejected/ignored by one of the sites I pitch it to, I’ll pub it here! Because this is my corner of the internet and I do what I want with it! :)

Here’s something I wrote and thought was funny, but wasn’t funny enough to make it to the big leagues. Next time I will be funnier! For now, try to enjoy funny at mediocre levels:

My dad tells me that when they gave him his first computer as a lawyer in the 1980s he thought, “What a waste of desk space.” Here’s how I imagine his generation spent their office hours in that strange world where cellular phones were the size of bricks, the World Wide Web was but a tadpole in the metaphorical pond of Tim Berners-Lee’s mind, and mail came in something quaint called “envelopes.” (OK, so we still have envelopes, but not nearly so damn many as they must have had. I mean, the amount of envelopes generated back then necessitated an envelope-opening tool dubbed, fittingly, a “letter opener.” When was the last time anyone used a letter opener? Can’t remember? That’s what I thought.)

  1. Chain-smoked ALL the cigarettes. Cigarettes were likely the Twix “need a moment” props of the day. Example: 1980s boss asks intern Jimmy whether or not he brought the P&L statements to the meeting with him, and Jimmy pulls out his pack of Marlboros and lights one up, granting himself a 15-second window with which to formulate his response. (He didn’t bring them. He actually hasn’t finished them yet. Good luck with that one, Jimmy!)
  2. Drank hard liquor on the rocks. We scored a deal—let’s have a drink. We lost a client—let’s have a drink. We made it to work today—let’s have a drink. You’re heading out? Take one for the road.
  3. Dictated memos for their secretaries to type and then painstakingly mimeograph. (Google it, it’s a thing.) These memos probably contained highly important notices to the tune of things like: “Whoever used the last of the coffee without brewing another pot is an asshole.”
  4. Twirled round and round in their office chairs while yelling “Wheeee!”
  5. Actually accepted calls to their landline office phones instead of just looking at the receiver while it rang and letting it go to voicemail.
  6. Wrote letters, by hand or by typewriter, on fancy letterhead, in block business letter formatting, with the salutation Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms._______ followed by a colon. These letters would arrive to their intended recipient in 2-3 days. They may sit on said recipients desk for a week or more, until that person took the time to write a similarly styled letter to respond to the problem, which had, by that time, already worked itself out.
  7. Went out to three-martini lunches. My company’s got the bill—No no, my company’s covering the bill! Oh, Barbara, you are just too much.
  8. Did math in their heads like some kind of wizards. Alternatively, used an adding machine. (That would have been my style.)
  9. Said things to their bosses like, “I’m sorry I missed you when you came by my office late yesterday, and I wasn’t home for your phone call. My wife and I were out [which is to say there was no way of contacting them!]. What did you need from me?”
  10. Filed paper things in hanging file folders and got severe paper cuts. Searched for the thing they filed a week ago in the same hanging folder it was most definitely filed in to begin with, only to find it gone without a trace. Blamed  Jimmy.

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