15 July 2009

Office gremlins

In today’s chronicle of technophobia, I am faced with the perilous task of troubleshooting a complex series of paper misfeeds in a photocopier. I am making my photocopies 2 hours in advance of my meeting, specifically to allow plenty of time to work around potential obstacles such as this.

After the warning beeps begin, my initial reaction is to collect my belongings and flee back to the relative safety of my office. I’m rather certain that no one will be able to identify that I am the culprit. But, I realize that this level of discourtesy is inappropriate, and besides, I would be leaving behind plenty of evidence regarding my identity in the form of partially created photocopies lodged within the bowels of this monstrous machine.

So, taking a breath and focusing on the tiny help screen, I follow the directions to open the door to the inner cavity and immediately assume that it must be a mistake. There are no excess papers readily visible. I close the door, but the pesky beeping continues. Now I begin pressing and pulling on the color coded levers and miraculously find a paper, then 2 more! But the beeping persists.

I discover that the machine is assembled in sliding drawer compartments just for the purpose of accessing the tiny spaces where paper can get stuck. 2 more pages. As I close the drawer, I hear a faint brushing sound and am certain that at least one more culprit remains. In the adjacent cavity of the machine, presumably where sorting, stacking and stapling occurs, I find the sheet but am unable to retrieve it with the tools available (colored knobs and levers). The page begins to tear and despair washes through me as I realize I have reached the limit of my technical ability with this machine.

At this particular moment, I am squarely at the bottom of the list of photocopier fans. I call our corporate facilities help line, but they defer me to the corporate technical support help line, who in turn, defers me to the photocopier vendor, who in turn suggests that I either study the online assistance guide for paper jams, or open a purchase order to dispatch a human photocopier super hero. I politely decline, since I do not have that level of authorization, and retreat. It is the lunch hour and no one will notice for a while…

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