August 15, 2009

A Series of Tubes

tokyo04

From Ask Metafilter, via Jared, comes this great little bit of history:

Somewhere along the line, the phrase "blow me" had entered the company vernacular, as a shorthand for "send me a copy of what you have via the pneumatic tubes." That was also a signal to the party on the other end to go wait for the delivery at his floor's tube station, if he wanted it right away (well, within the couple of minutes it took to traverse the system, what with some mail room operator delay). If you just told someone to send you something, it could mean just put it in the inter-office mail, which went around twice a day on the mail carts. You did that with sample parts, and other physical items too big or too heavy for the tube system.

So, if you were up in the executive suite, you'd frequently overhear one side of a conversation where Sales was talking to someone in Engineering about some customer request, and it would abruptly end "Fine. Blow me." and then the Sales end of the conversation would hang up his phone and saunter off to the pneumatic station on his floor, to await the arrival of a drawing from Engineering, that would explain what Engineering's view of the problem was. And conversely, if you were down in Engineering, where the documents were maintained and archived, you'd hear constant requests for customer correspondence, sketches, specs and such, as "Yeah, we need that, before we can release shop drawings. Blow me." Or, "If you wanted this yesterday, you should have blown me yesterday."

Posted by Drew at August 15, 2009 06:42 PM
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