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Despite workplace innovations, some (laughable) resistance exists

Tammy Swift, columnist

Some people go to yoga class to relax.

I go to OfficeMax.

I'm not really sure why, but a visit to the office supply store can be strangely soothing. All those color-coded binders and elaborate planners line up before me like willing foot soldiers in the War Against Disorganization. It's like back-to-school shopping for adults.

I'm constantly impressed by the new developments in office supplies.

Who knew there were smart pens that photograph your notes and can transmit them to your smart phone in text form?

Or that Kate Spade has designed an acrylic stapler for the budding fashion editor?

Or that you can buy a USB vacuum — that looks like an actual tiny vacuum?

But even in a world of innovative workplace tools, there are pockets of resistance. During a recent sightseeing tour through a local office supply store, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following business brontosauruses are alive and well.

Five things you might not realize OfficeMax still carries:

1. Pink "while you were out" message slips. Picture, if you can, a world without email or voicemail. Someone (usually a resentful co-worker) had to answer your phone, write down the message (with varying degrees of legibility and accuracy), and then physically leave the note on your desk. It took a lot of time and manpower, although it was still less time-consuming than slogging through all those e-mailed meeting notifications, meeting cancellations, FYI's and automated newsletters from Frank's Folder and Rubberband Corral.

2. Fax machines. I know, I know, most businesses still use fax, and people still list fax numbers on their business cards. Also, for some weird reason, a muddy fax of a legal document is sometimes considered more acceptable than a smartphone scan that was taken via state-of-the-art digital processing. Even so, a fax seems about as fresh as a Rachel and Ross joke.

3. The Rolodex. I once worked with a man whose contacts were so numerous that his Rolodex was like the reel of a swather. He could flip through that thing with a speed that would challenge the latest microprocessor. Besides, it was just plain impressive to see how many contacts he had, even if his Rolodex needed its own cubicle.

4. Carbon paper. Remember? Remember trying to line up all those pieces of paper with smudgy dark blue carbon paper and then struggling to feed them into a typewriter? Remember how you would groan if you made a mistake — knowing full-well you now had to erase the mistake on three copies? (Thank you, Mike Nesmith's mother.) Carbon paper was a real thing, boys and girls. Just be grateful for the hard work and inky blue fingers of your ancestors the next time you blithely dash off a few copies on a wireless printer.

5. Grandma candy. This is the kind of lame candy that people would put on their desks when they wanted to look like they gave out candy — but they didn't ever want to refill it.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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