The printer is down.
No… That is somewhat misleading, as the printer being down is not an anomalous occurrence. But the designation of “printer” is somewhat misleading in and of itself. True, the machine in question can, or so I’m told, render a stream of ones and zeros into a tangible piece of communication, but it is also rumored to be able to send faxes, make copies, and generate more heat than a thermonuclear exchange. Hence, calling the mass of plastic produced by Canon or Xerox or HP a mere “printer” is simply incorrect. Like a butterfly from a cocoon, the device that started off in product development as yet another printer with $50 ink cartridges has scorned that lowly title in favor of a more regal moniker: “media center.” Perhaps to reflect its stately name, the media center is about the size of city bus, and I’m fairly certain that some of the paper compartments have electric and sewer hookups and can be legally sold as time shares. This is definitely a plus, as a sub-lease is the only hope corporate has of seeing any sort of ROI.
The media center, if my abundance of qualifiers is any indication, has produced approximately one complete document over the course of its six year life. This document was a Windows printer test page, verifying that the company IT staff cannot be blamed for the machine’s consistent inability to do anything other than exist in this particular dimension of space and time. The second document printed, a forty-five word humorous forward transmitted to the (i)m(p)edia center around the time of Clinton’s re-election, is still eagerly awaited by Cindy a few cubes down. And while I loathe to be this frank on paper, I must state that I believe she waits in vain.
Of course, the perpetually incapacitated copier is nearly worth its girth in the amount of office humor it provides. See, each person who comes to pay homage at this Midwestern Mecca of toner consumption, regardless of whether it is to send a fax, run a copy, or make a s’more, immediately assumes that their half page of Times New Roman font is responsible for crippling the device.
This results in many moments similar to when someone is hit by a car. The initial impulse of those on the scene is to just sort of back off a spell – give it some air. Who knows, perhaps it’ll find its second wind and start spewing out all the documents that were sent to the machine and, like Hoffa’s body, never seen again.
This is of course insufficient, and the machine will have to be repaired. But repairing the machine is a more tedious process than it really needs to be. Ideally, someone should have arranged to carpool with the repair guy by now – or arranged for the lower paper compartment to be furnished so he or she would stop leaving after “finishing.” Instead, someone has to call customer service, which will promptly inform said caller that there is no way the repair guy can swing by before the moon halts the Earth’s rotation. And it is during this interlude that the individual who placed the call, generally from a supervisory position, proceeds to make the worst decision of his or her career by summoning “The Guy Who Fixed the Printer Once.”
The Guy Who Fixed the Printer Once is actually less of an expert and more of a statistical error. Once, the printer stopped, and the aforementioned individual, through no fault of his own, inadvertently corrected the problem by leaning against one of the side doors that had not been completely closed after its most recent repair. Despite knowing that the intervention was divine at best and accidental at worst, this individual wasted no time in claiming that their quick action was the only thing that allowed the company to meet its quarterly projections.
Watching The Guy Who Fixed the Printer Once is something akin to observing the chimps in 2001: A Space Odyssey approach the monolith. It’s a microcosm of human evolution. First, our man discovers the lever, of which the machine happens to be full. Toggling them results in no visible improvement. The next discovery is the wheel, but unless one shot out of the machine and embedded itself in a temp, finding failures here will be difficult. After ten or fifteen minutes of toggling levers and spinning wheels, the whole process culminates with the discovery of fire, the evacuation of the building, and a cost-cutting management decision involving the use of monks to illuminate future internal memos.
This is a good decision. They are, after all, considerably more reliable, decidedly faster, and can be paid in fresh bread and brandy.