“The printer’s broken.”
I blink at my colleague. I’ve just walked into the office, over-priced coffee clutched in my hand, traditional Monday scowl plastered across my face. I haven’t even sat down yet.
“Right. So you want me to have a look at it?” I manage to say without peppering the sentence with profanities.
“Would you mind?” Says the non-management idiot. “Thanks.” I look at him as he slopes off. He has two arms with hands on the end and some eyes in his face so I’m not entirely sure why he wasn’t able to attempt a repair but if I’ve learnt anything during my years of being a PA, it’s that if there’s a PA in the vicinity, THAT’S the lucky sausage who fixes the broken stuff (read: coffee machine, photocopier, laminator, voicemail, dishwasher, etc).
I hang my jacket up, metaphorically roll up my sleeves and look at the little instruction screen (which is somehow invisible to my colleagues).
Right, well that’s the first clue as to what might be wrong with it. I feel angry. It’s obvious what’s wrong and the paper that is currently jammed somewhere deep inside the cogs of the printer is NOT the result of a print job I am doing, ergo why am I the one who has to clear it? However, if a PA allows herself to think like that, it’s only a short trip to furious insanity and possibly the purchase of a sniper rifle, so I squash that thought and press the little arrow sign.
This reveals a picture of the printer with one of its flaps hanging down like a grotesque robot autopsy. I locate said flap and open it.
This printer is a bastard. It’s a gormless, useless heap of metal encased in cheap beige plastic. I hate this printer and I’m pretty sure it hates me. I begin systematically opening every one of its seventy five flaps. I twiddle knobs, I poke my fingers into its hot plasticy orifices in a deeply dangerous way. I yank out the waste toner cartridge and get a shower of toner over my hands so I look like I’ve been slapping a chimney sweep.
Nothing. There is NO PAPER jammed anywhere. I slam the front cover closed and glare at the printer. It sits exuding smugness and little puffs of toner.
I grab a sheet of A4, lick my finger and using the moistened toner, I write ‘OUT OF ORDER’ and stick it to the printer’s lid. I wash my hands and pick up the phone to call the engineer.
Over the next thirty minutes, I watch twelve different people approach the printer. Each one looks at the sign, clearly smeared in jet black toner and each one says ‘Is the printer broken, then?’
Each time I swallow the bile that’s risen and say calmly ‘Yes, I’ve called the engineer.’
For some that’s not enough. Some decide that I must be WRONG in my assumption that only a fully trained printer engineer can fix it. They assume that even though I’ve spent the best part of fifteen years, elbow deep in printers like James Herriot with a calving dairy cow, I can’t POSSIBLY have checked ALL the flaps.
So they start checking flaps. They open and slam the flaps as they watched me do not ten minutes before. They press the touch screen buttons and tut loudly before announcing ‘Yeah, definitely a job for the engineer’ and wandering back to their desks to fuck around on Facebook until lunch.
The printer watches them go and rolls its eyes at me. We share a moment. But I still hate it.