Every Tree’s Nightmare

On her way back to her office, Linda paused at the opening of every coworker's cubicle. She waved her stack of papers at each occupant, then used her thumb to fan the paper right beside the grin on her face. When certain that the coworker had observed her glee, she moved on to the next cube.

Finally, at her office door she held her half-ream of now-messy paper over her head with both hands like a trophy and cleared her throat. A couple heads "prairie dogged" over cubicle walls and Linda beamed at them. "Who's laughing now?" she said.

Their email server had crashed and restoration from backup would take hours. This meant that the email messages for everyone in the office were temporarily unavailable -except Linda's.

Linda's gloating was fair, even if short-lived, because, for years, she had suffered teasing from her coworkers for printing out all of her emails. They accused her of being impractical and of creating clutter. Her office was a mess, lined with knee-high stacks of email printouts along two walls. Most of the email printouts were out of order and some of the untidy pages near the bottom had yellow edges.

Linda's hardcopy-archiving was extreme, however, I still see clients who print out almost every email they get. I walk in and their printer is panting, spitting out sheet after sheet of warm, hot-off-the-press electronic mail.

I suppose printing out all your email isn't wrong -I just can't grasp the rationale. To me it's like saving a web page video clip to VCR tape for safe keeping -if doing so was as easy as clicking a button. Some people may simply prefer to read paper rather than a screen. Or maybe there's a deeper psychological loss issue traceable to childhood -certainly not to imply any dysfunction, of course! If the fear of losing email is the concern, then a solid backup should counter such fear.

If we add up the price of paper, the 8 - 25 or more cents per page that average inkjet and light-duty laser printers cost and the payroll needed for a person to manage all their own "e-paper" then we find that the beauty of free, immediate email is all but ruined.

I'll occasionally print out a funny or interesting email to share with my wife or someone who is with me. Sure, I could forward it, but seeing the person's reaction and sharing a laugh is easier with a printout and more practical than transporting the laptop.

If you enjoy buying lots of paper -and can afford the ink -and have the storage space -and love to feel your email messages between your fingers -and don't mind paying the equivalent of first class postage for your email, then go for it. Convert your Inbox into a few reams of letter-sized bond.

I say, save a paper cut, save a tree, keep most of your email totally "e."

1 Response

  1. Carol
    I would know who "Tammy" is, except I'm still trying to teach "Tammy" to hit PRINTABLE VIEW! uno???

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