The Slow Demise of Check Books and Fax Machines

We had our office holiday party a week ago. There is a nominal fee of $5 adult and $1 per child. The money goes to pay for the next year’s holiday party alcohol. I’d waited to the last minute to get my tickets. When I stopped by to pick them up, I realized that I had no cash on me.

“That’s okay,” the person in charge of distributing the tickets said, “I takes checks.”

She might take checks, but I am less likely to carry a check than cash. Checks are rapidly going the way of the dodo. We write just two or three checks a year, usually for miscellaneous things at the kids’ school like a t-shirt for basketball. When I got the Little Man his Class B shirt for Cubs Scouts, I paid for it via PayPal. When a place asks us to send a check for something, I always ask if there is an alternative. Who uses checks anymore?

Well, a few places, I suppose. I still receive checks when I sell something to Analog or InterGalactic Medicine Show. When I wrote for The Daily Beast, my payments were direct-deposited. When I wrote for 99U, I received my payment via PayPal. Almost anything is easier than writing a check. Banks have made it pretty easy to deposit checks when they come in. But I still prefer direct deposit or PayPal when it is possible.

The week after the holiday party, one of our telecomm specialists was in the office completing the final migration to IP phones. It wasn’t a hundred percent transition. They still need to support the fax machine.

“Fax machines?” I said. “Do people really still use fax machines?”

Apparently they do.

Thinking about the slow demise of check books and fax machines made me wonder what else had vanished in my lifetime. Here is a list of things I came up with, good and bad:

  • Telephone booths.
  • Smoking sections on airplanes and in restaurants.
  • Pagers
  • Typewriters.
  • 7-digit p.hone numbers. When I was kid in New Jersey, I could dial my best friend’s house by picking up the kitchen phone and punching 846-3835. Today, I have to add four additional digits for country and area code.
  • Baseball cards. What happened to baseball cards? I see them at Target near the Pokemon cards, but I never see kids trading baseball cards, or even talking about them. I have feeling they have no idea what baseball cards are.
  • Good FM radio. Like 92 PRO FM, Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1981. Or KQLZ “Pirate Radio” in Los Angeles, circa 1989.
  • The White Pages. It’s been years since I’ve seen a copy of the White Pages. I’d love a copy of the White Pages. It is a great source of names for characters in stories.

I’m sure that when the Little Man is in high school, he’ll say to me, “Who uses WordPress anymore?” Serves me right.


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