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Printers were a mistake

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engineer left hand use green screwdriver repair office printer tray and other parts

Just don’t print things. 

It’s not worth it. 

For the past few weeks, without fail, when I’ve gone to print something, the printer fails on me. Think of a printer error, and I’ve probably encountered it.

Paper jam? Check.

Low toner? Check.

Streaks making text illegible? Check.

Some combo of “toner,” “spool,” “tray,” and “error”? Check. 

No magenta? Can’t print a black and white document now.

No paper? Well, actually, there is. The tray is overflowing in abundance.

“I’ll just take some out,” I say, foolishly. “Or better yet, spoon feed it one page at a time.” 

But it’s not enough. 

No amount is good enough to register for the printer. No lowly document you have is good enough for the printer to deign to acknowledge, let alone print. 

The printer knows you’re in a hurry when you press “Print.” It knows you’ve got something important in the queue. It knows your handwriting is so awful that you need to print out anything you write so people, yourself included, can actually read it. It smells desperation. And. Thrives. On. It. 

Guttenburg had his heart in the right place, creating the printing press – a beautiful marvel of a machine. It helped create books, after all, one of my favorite things in the world. And don’t forget the paper this is printed on right now.

No, commercial printers are off the hook. I’m talking about the home printers and office printers, the ones that always laugh when you send them a document, print off half of it, and then eat the rest with a horrible mechanical grinding noise. That half of the paper that sticks out tauntingly during a paper jam always looked like the printer was sticking its tongue out at me. 

“You almost had me,” it says. 

What’s the solution? I don’t know. 

Maybe it’s the printer’s way of trying to become green in a more eco-conscious world. You can’t litter if you can’t even print off the litter first, after all.

Maybe it’s the printer’s way of trying to gently stage an intervention. “You’re really becoming too reliant on paper,” it might say. “It’s starting to become a problem. I mean, just look at how many papers surround you at any given moment. You really need to tone it down a bit.”

Or maybe, the printer is just lonely. Maybe the printer errors are just its way of saying that it wants me to slow down in life and spend more time with it, so it’s warm, mechanical whrrrrs can lull me to sleep. 

I’m sure there’s a life lesson in here somewhere. When I figure it out, I’ll be sure to print it off for you.