The copier temptation
Oooooh, so close …
One of the tasks I find myself doing often at work is making copies. Sure, the community college where I work has a central copying service, but it has a couple of strikes against it. One is that it takes time to get documents processed, copied, and delivered to my mailbox, and I'm often printing things on short notice. The other is that, while it does offer a while-you-wait service, that service is only available limited hours of the day, and those hours don't include the hours that I'm usually on campus, since most of the classes I teach are evening classes.
This means that I have come to know the copiers in the faculty workrooms very well over the years. The one that was at the campus where I'm teaching this term was getting to be like an old friend – or sometimes a familiar adversary. I knew exactly which buttons to push, where the paper was likely to jam, how to run a butcher knife along the edge of the paper supply in the bottom drawer to straighten the stack and prevent false "out of paper" messages. (Why there's a butcher knife in the faculty workroom is another story.) My familiarity with copiers even led to my first National Novel Writing Month mystery, Murder at the Community College, in which I used a copier as the murder weapon.
But that old machine really hadn't been adequate for the burdens placed upon it, and lately it had been having more problems than usual – jamming more often, doing a half-hearted job of punching holes when asked to, claiming to be out of toner when it wasn't, and not responding to the persuasion of the butcher knife.
Wednesday, I stopped by the workroom to check my mailbox before going to teach my afternoon class, and I was treated to a heavenly vision. There in the place where the old machine had sat was a gleaming new one, bigger and more powerful, all shiny, with a heavy-duty paper magazine. It seemed to have a glowing purplish aura about it, and in my head I heard heavenly music – the sort that plays in the film It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World whenever somebody spots the big W.
"Whooooa!" I found myself involuntarily gasping. I was soon to head off to teach my class, but once it was done, I had some heavy-duty copying to do. I was really looking forward to taking that baby through its paces, multiple page handouts, simplex to duplex and duplex to duplex, collating, stapling, three-hole punching. I was drooling.
Two hours later, when I returned to the workroom after teaching my class, a sign had been taped to the copier: "OUT OF ORDER. Technician has been called."