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My Files Aren’t Hanging Any More

     For twenty years, ever since I sat in front of my first computer, I’ve been talking about the paperless society along with everyone else  – at least when I wasn’t buying file cabinets, file folders and hanging files to hold all my important papers.  But last week, I finally got the drift.

     We really don’t need paper. Here I’ve been printing out reports and schedules and filing them in neatly labeled file folders (well, some of them neatly), which I then put in those awful green-colored hanging files that you’re supposed to put those plastic index labels on top of but I never do because it’s just too much bother, and then whenever I need to find something or give someone a copy, I go digging through those files and of course what I’m looking for is never there because I didn’t put it back the last time I used it, so that’s okay – all I have to do is go print it out on my computer.

     Which I do. I always print two copies. One for me and one for the file. Just to be safe. In case I forget to put mine back again.

     Well, last week I was sitting before my computer as usual and to finish the report I was working on I needed some information that was over in my files so I jumped up to retrieve it – and then I jumped right back down into my chair in front of the computer.


     The dawning of America is as nothing compared to what happened to me that day. I realized – how could I have been so dumb? – I realized that all these years I’d been printing out reams and reams of reports and spreadsheets and stuff, and it was totally unnecessary because that’s what computers are all about. You don’t print stuff out and file it in file cabinets. You file it in your computer. That’s why they call them files. What a dummy I’ve been.

     Then, when you need to check some information, you open the file. The computer file. Not the printed-out paper in the hanging green file folder that you never can find anyway - the neatly organized file in the neatly labeled folder in the computer. It’s always right where it’s supposed to be. If you haven’t looked at it for a couple of years, well then you might have a hard time finding it.

     But the good old browser is ready to help you. He can find anything as long as you tell him at least one thing about it. When you find it, you read it right there on the screen – no need to read it off a piece of paper that sucks the ink right out of its cartridge as it passes through the printer.

     This has been quite a dawning of the computer age for me and I’m still adjusting to my revelation, but I’m doing okay. I plan to take my computer with me to all the meetings this month and leave my notes at home. If anyone needs to know anything, I’ll just open the file and turn my screen in her direction and she can read it right there – live and paperless. Just like on TV. And is she hasn’t had her own personal revelation, I’ll e-mail it off to her and she can print it on her own printer and file it in an old-fashioned file folder like I always used to use.

     Only thing is, now that I don’t have any paper reports, I don’t know what I’m going to do with all my pencils and erasers and highlighters and pens. And paper clips and staples and staplers and what about the copy machine? Won’t need that any more.

     But first I have to figure out how to get all those paper files back into my computer…

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