dinsdag 28 februari 2023

Highly confidential

The German pastor Heiko Kuschel collects matters that can go wrong in church work. He numbers his collection neatly. 

Kirchliche Veranstaltungsregel #300: Je vertraulicher ein Dokument, desto wahrscheinlicher wird es auf dem Kopierer vergessen.

Church Event Rule #300: The more confidential a document, the more likely it is to be forgotten at the copier.

It reminds me of the very first photocopy I ever made. (Verzeihung, mein Deutsch ist heute noch nicht aufgestanden., Pardon me, my German hasn't yet waken up today).

I was 14 and travelling a week by train with a class mate in the summer holidays with a cheap train card, Tienertoer (Teenage Tour). We arrived at Rotterdam Central Station and in the station hall there was a photocopier. We both had never seen one, it was quite modern, it was 1970, and we were very excited. We decided to make a copy of the five guilders bill 💵 that our parents had given us as pocket money 💸, all we had. We put a dubbeltje (ten cents) in the machine and were very happy with our copy of five gulden, we felt very rich.

The moment we left the station, the copier leaving far behind, a man came after us and shouted at us. We looked back and he waved with a green five guilders bill. Does this belong to you? Yes. It was all we had.

Since then I've learned to always, always open up the lid of the copier as an automatic gesture or look at every drawer to check if there's still something left in it. Same as I always, always turn around and look back at my seat up and down when I get up to leave the train, as a matter of automation.

Later, in my work, I found several highly confidential documents at the copier. Once, when I had applied for an other job within the same organisation, I found documents concerning this application, that is the full applications of my competitors and the considerations around the job interview. The printer spit it out from memory. I've also trained myself to clear the memory of printer/copiers after I've made a print or copy. I also used to always lock or turn off my screen, even when I left the desk only for a few seconds or to Alt-Tab to another (preferably empty) window, when someone came to me for a question or conversation. I don't want to have to think whether my document is confidential or not, I just want to be sure I only publish or share what's meant to be shared. I'm a secretary, which means secret writer.

I often say this. When I want people to know, I post it on Facebook. When it's highly confidential, I post it on my website in this weblog. Who will ever read that?

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