While You Were Out

380519_message_padMy online writing group got to chatting the other day about how far technology has come and how it influences us. Authors use Facebook to promote books, people create blogs everywhere around the world, calls for submission are shared via listservs, students study writing in online workshops, Twitter keeps people in constant contact, the list goes on.

Of course technology isn’t only impacting the writing world. It made me chuckle when I compared corporate America now with the work environment I entered nearly twelve years ago. At that time, we had only just started using e-mail, we relied heavily on the fax machine to conduct business, and most companies didn’t think of using a website to connect with customers. My office didn’t even have voicemail – we had stacks of pink notepads that said WHILE YOU WERE OUT at the top and the person lucky enough to pick up the call (it was a small office) got to take a message.

I was working in a Japanese company at the time and one of my favorite messages on these note pads was that Ringo-san (Mr./Ms. Ringo) had called for me while I was out. I had no idea who Ringo was or could be. The only Ringo I could think of was Ringo Starr from the Beatles. I dialed the number and waited for the person to pick up. Come to find out it was my female cousin, whose last name is Engel, but sounded like “Ringo” to my Japanese co-worker, Keizo.

My family still gets a chuckle out of the mysterious Ringo-san, but I have to say I don’t miss the days of taking messages on those note pads.  Yes, things are faster and possibly less personal thanks to the advances in technology, but there ares some efficiencies, like voicemail,  for which I am grateful.

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3 Responses to While You Were Out

  1. The organization I left in 2004 STILL used those little pink “While You Were Out” slips! Seems arcane, now that you mention it. Sometimes I love all the technology and sometimes I think it might be nice to take a breather and go back to paper.

  2. Liz says:

    Yes, I was using those until 2001. I hadn’t thought of them in 8 years until just the other night.

  3. Ringo - San says:

    Hey Cousin, funny story!! And didn’t Ringo mean apple in Japanese? Your office cohorts had quite a laugh.

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