Day 98 January 30, 2023 – Thermofax Heist

If you have been teaching for a long time you will remember the thermofax machine. This made things for the modern invention, the overhead projector. There were three modern machines when I started teaching: the overhead projector, the opaque projector, and the thermofax machine. The overhead projector is self-explanatory but I will need to do a little education on the thermofax machine. The thermofax machine would use heat take the ink off of a document and transfer it to a clear plastic sheet for use on the overhead projector. This was a great way to share worksheets or other written (typed) material with the whole class. This also allowed the use of colored Vis-a-Vis pens to highlight different things.  At one time, this was the height of classroom technology. This device was important to our department for classes like accounting. The business department had a machine and it was used constantly. Ours just died one day with no warning. We were trying to problem solve about what we could do. Somewhere in the discussion, I made a flippant remark that we could just steal the one in the staff lounge that wasn’t used very often. As the days passed the accounting teacher became frustrated by going downstairs and making them in the staff lounge. None of us had seen anyone use that one in a long time.

No matter how we tried to avoid it, we knew we had to do something. For some meeting, the accounting teacher and I were here late one night and the plan was hatched. We went into our storeroom with a cart and loaded the old broken machine on the cart and headed for the elevator. The building was empty and this was before cameras so we thought we were safe. We loaded the elevator and headed downstairs. Wouldn’t you know it, as we came out of the elevator an assistant principal came walking by us! We made small talk and mumbled something about helping move some equipment as I stood in front of the cart. We laughed and wished her goodnight. We completed the exchange as quickly as we could and hoped nobody complained about the broken one in the lounge. We were lucky because nobody said anything so we figured if anyone had tried it, they just thought it had died. The one in the lounge was never replaced and the one in our storeroom worked perfectly for several more years. One additional note is that the assistant principal is now our principal. A year ago I just tiptoed up to the story with her and she never remembered the incident. We carried out the perfect crime!