Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Sirs:

Back in 1994 when I was a first-year monk in a monastery, one of the elderly monks, Fr. Placid, asked for my assistance in getting his little computer to print a letter he had written. We went to his room, and there it was -- an original MacIntosh, circa 1984.

Fr. Placid, being 82 years old and having very little experience at word processing, had painstakingly written a letter to a book publisher, inquiring about the availability of a book on theology he wished to purchase. I can still remember the letter in great detail. It was something one would see in a bygone era:

Dear Sirs:

I would like to purchase one copy of “XXX” by xxx, published in New York, May, 1984. If you have copies available, would you kindly consider this a purchase order and mail a copy to me at the above address with invoice enclosed? I shall gladly remit payment by money order upon receipt.

If you have any questions, I can be reached by telephone at 214-xxx-xxxx during business hours except on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. during which time I am teaching at the university.

Very truly yours . . .

I had to smile when I saw that letter he had spent so much time writing. He would type one letter, look at the screen to see if it was there, type another letter, and so on.

I discovered the problem with getting it to print. He was using Word 1.0 – one point O – and the printer just wouldn’t recognize it anymore.

We finally managed to print his letter. But rather than mail it to the “dear sirs” at the publisher, I kindly called the local Borders, ordered it, and charged it to my credit card.

But I had to hand it to the old guy.

Here he was, 82 years old and bangin' it on a computer. Good for him. His letter was expertly written even though English wasn’t even his native tongue. I doubt that his letter would have been acknowledged at all, though it would have been the means by which one would procure a book by mail back in 1935.

Nowadays, the publication would simply be ordered online from Amazon or downloaded to a Kindle. Calling a Borders these days, if you could find one, would be as archaic as him writing a “dear sirs” letter to the publisher.


At 8:29 AM , Blogger Mom said...

Somehow this post just makes me smile.


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