It’s a world of bytes and digits, but paper just keeps on stuffing up the process.

I’m only slightly amazed at how impatient I’ve become with those who still keep filing cabinets. Yes, I have three myself—to store all the paper that everyone else piles on me.) I’m getting ready to move, and that means pushing an awful lot of hard copies. Just the preliminary packet of gobbledygook I received from the mortgage company was a termite’s feast of borrowers certification, privacy notice, credit score disclosure, Equal Credit Opportunity Act notice, occupancy certification, good-faith estimate, truth-in-lending disclosure, uniform residential loan application, and dozens more chunks of 20 lb. Hammermill totaling 36 legal-size pages. Heaven knows what awaits me at the closing itself. I’m glad I rented the moving truck for the full day.

So next Tuesday I do the walk-through of my new house with the project superintendent, who will make notes on paper and have me sign a paper punch list so he can issue paper work orders to fix the things that should have been done right in the first place if the workers had read the first round of paperwork I filled out for the people at the home showroom—who subsequently sent the wrong shutters and the wrong flooring because THEIR PAPERWORK WAS WRONG!!

I can move my phone service online; I can move my cable service online; but if I want to change from the phone company to the cable company, THAT requires paperwork. The cable guy is coming to my residence at the end of the day today to shuffle another ream or so in front of me, I’m sure.

All this made me sick, so I got a couple prescriptions and now I’m ready to file for reimbursement through my medical Flexible Spending Account. The third-party administrators won’t let me scan the receipts and the claim form and e-mail them in—the logical procedure for any sane digital practitioner. “We can’t accept inbound e-mails,” is their response. YOU WHAT??!!? No, I either have to mail in copies of receipts—with an actual stamp!—or fax them in. Who still uses a fax, for heaven’s sake? I suppose I could scan the receipts and then use my computer’s fax software to send them, but I have to fill out an electronic cover sheet and receive a confirmation and…it’s all too much like paperwork.

I never thought I’d say this, but maybe Lewis Black is not insane. He’s just been spending way too much time reading his PAPER!!

When you go to bed tonight, bless your computer (please don’t baptize it) and say a little prayer for your colleagues, vendors and neighborhood tradesfolk who are still up, rummaging through paper clips, staples and three-ring binders. Maybe create your own little prayer for a global digital environment. Just, please—don’t write it down.

—Steve Friedman

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