Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Fold Here
Jennifer Flaten

It looks like an ordinary piece of office equipment, but really, the paper-folding machine 5000 is evil. So evil, it makes the HAL 3000, from “2001: a space odyssey,” look well adjusted. 


Working in a billing office is special.

Unless, you’ve worked in an office that sends out billing or statements you’re most likely unfamiliar with the paper-folder. It does exactly what its name implies, folds paper.

Yes, those bills and statements you receive in the mail are not lovingly hand folded, but instead sent through a monstrous machine. In fact, this machine epitomizes the industrial revolution, where once a clerk or secretary toiled for hours to crease and fold paper, the machine slurps in a sheet of paper and spits out a perfectly folded specimen.


What would take hours now takes, in my case, many hours.

Okay, so it isn’t evil incarnate, but it is obnoxious. Of course, I could just feel that way because I spent two precious hours wrestling with the machine, and while it almost bested me in the end I prevailed.

A few days a week, I unchain myself from the laptop and work an office job, but don’t tell the laptop because I don’t want it to know I am cheating on it with a desktop okay?

At this point, I am sure you are wondering who would hire my pale, pasty, people avoiding self: a church, perhaps. Yes, I am as surprised as are you. Apparently, forgiveness is for all and I can once again enter holy ground without fear of bursting into flames.

I am the Quasimodo of the business office. My job involves all manner of paper pushing. I push paper into files, I push paper into the shredder and every quarter I push paper into the infernal paper-folding machine.

A few days ago, those in charge handed me a box of paper and sent me off to the paper folder. Now finding the paper-folder is a bit like Frodo’s journey, one must venture through dark and dangerous parts of the church to reach the paper folding room.

In this dim corner office, I met my nemesis. Prior to this meeting, I thought I was master of every piece of office equipment. I thought wrong. The paper-folder knows no master. It doesn’t care how you want the paper folded, it will fold it the way it wants to fold it and you will like it.


The church organ played.

As I stepped up the machine, from below I could hear the church’s organ playing an appropriately phantom of the opera-esque tune. I adjusted the knobs, started the machine and smugly stood back.

The machine proceeded to spit out folded paper at an alarming rate. I couldn’t keep up. Papers were flying everywhere. For a minute, I was Lucille Ball in the “I Love Lucy” episode; the one where they are at the chocolate factory. WAH, Ricky! Unfortunately, I didn’t have an Ethel to help me keep up. Nor could I eat the paper to destroy the evidence of my inability to control the machine.

Finally, the machine spit out the last statement. Now, I had a towering pile of tri-folded paper I needed to stuff in the envelopes and I was more than happy to do that the old-fashioned way.


I stuffed and I stuffed.

I stuffed paper into envelops, I stuffed and I stuffed. Finally, it was time to seal them. Wait. How am I going to seal them, they can’t possibly expect me to lick 500 envelopes.

Yes, apparently they did. The previous office monkey did it. Hmmm, maybe, the position wasn’t vacant because he quit, maybe it was vacant because he died of glue poisoning.

Well, I prefer if someone skipped my cause of death, ‘envelope glue,’ on my death certificate, so I demanded an envelope sealer. Thankfully, that is not an automated machine; it is simply a water filled squeeze bottle. Exactly, the type of office “equipment” I am most skilled at operating. I happily sealed envelopes and managed, only twice to glue myself to the desk. Yes, I had another successful day at the office.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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