On three occasions in one month on the job at The Dispatch, I’ve been asked either to send or receive faxes.

At the time of writing this first draft, I was still very much unclear on how this process works in 2021.

Thankfully, I have not been alone in my confusion. When I desperately pleaded to my colleagues for help last week, I was met with responses such as “Do we have a fax machine?”

I looked around the office, behind closed doors, in every nook and cranny, searching for anything that resembled what I remembered a fax machine looking like. At one point, I even opened the refrigerator.

No fax machine.

In that moment, I wished I could have sounded a doomsday siren or signaled for Batman. I needed help.

Then I learned there are more cutting-edge ways to send faxes: through a multifunction printer or from a computer, including via email.

Actually, internet faxing has been around since the mid-1990s, but I did not get that particular memo, possibly because the memo was faxed.

Keep in mind that in modern newsrooms, we’ve been relying on email or other web-based methods of sharing information for at least a couple of decades. I’ve heard the stories of reporters sending stories via fax, but as a millennial, it’s always been email for me.

As it turns out, faxes are still quite popular in various fields including health care, manufacturing, finance, and government.

Jonathan Coopersmith wrote for the Washington Post in 2019 that “in many cases, faxing is more secure, easier to use and better suited to existing work habits than computer-based messaging.”

Every year, according to Bebusinessed.com, approximately 17 to 100 billion faxes are sent around the world. Zero of those came from South Chestnut Street last week.

But one did come from there on Monday morning as I celebrated my first successful delivery of a virtual fax.

I might even send some more just for fun.

There I had sat, in my ivory cloud-computing tower while people have been faxing their hearts out all over the globe. If only I had known the 1980s were still going strong.

How is sending fax documentation through email safer than sending it through regular email services? Listen, I’m not the guy for explaining that. I just know that if you don’t want the KGB ordering winter hats from your bank account, you better stick

with fax.

If you’d like to fax me for advice, well, please don’t just yet. I haven’t figured out the receiving part.

EXTRA POINTSPlaying this season for an ACC football championship berth, N.C. State suffered a setback Saturday night, upset by Miami. East Carolina also lost. And the Carolina Panthers scored a grand total of three points against the New York Giants on Sunday. Unless you’re a Wake Forest fan, you probably didn’t have a very good sports weekend.

The good news for UNC and Duke?

They didn’t lose, since neither team played.