Years ago, I might have said ‘once upon a time’ it seems so foreign now, a real estate office I worked in kept its supply of current newspapers stacked in the copy room. Mailboxes lined one wall and a fax machine graced the facing counter. The huge Xerox behemoth that ran our lives took up most of the rest of the floor space, claiming dominant share of the square footage by means of its import. Duplicating materials for coop board packages was certainly a vital task for us brokers, but so were sending and receiving documents by fax, and checking personal mailboxes for client communications about pending deals; to say nothing of the always welcome and eagerly awaited commission check from the bookkeeping department! With so many critical tasks converging in one central place, it’s no wonder there was always conversation and gossip to be found in the copy room.
I’m sure you can place the era, now that you know we lived for snail mail, reacted in a leisurely fashion to faxes, had never heard of a scanner with the dimensions of a dress box instead of a room-sized copy machine, and had to resort to hard copy news to stay up to date. I told you, it was ‘once upon a time’. On one of those long-ago days, I was wiling away ‘the time’ waiting for a 500 page board package to duplicate exponentially. In between the usual battle to wrest a piece of mangled paper from the jaws of the Xerox machine, and replacement of the cracked collator tray always ending up on the floor at a crucial moment in the cacophonous process, I scanned the arts section of The New York Times. I could usually get deeply engrossed in Anna Kisselgoff’s critique of a dance performance or Clive Barnes ‘shooting the wounded’ (as he liked to say) in a current theater production. I have no doubt the papers were there for just such entertainment, since we had so little private time to read for pure enjoyment.
“What’s the problem?” one of my male counterparts asked. I hadn’t heard him come in and wanted his interruption like a Landlease coming due.