Someone switches the lights on and the day blinks into life. There’s bustle around me, as people settle down to their desks, takeaway coffees in hand. Not long now till they remember the stuff they forgot to pick off my tray the night before. There’s always somebody rooting about, trying to retrieve personal stuff – someone actually printed some wrapping paper she’d designed to wrap her nephew’s birthday present (I can tell you that put a run on my coloured ink). Anyway, the day’s started well because no one has plonked their mug down on me. I hate tea and coffee with a vengeance.
Don’t get me wrong – some people do take their work seriously and start the day by tackling important tasks. They stand diligently by me as I print a crucial business document, making sure that I have not skipped a page. I quite like turning out sheet after sheet of well-thought-out arguments for marketing a particular product (if only they knew I could read). Just as well that I’m a loyal printer, because competitors would love to find out what I know.
There should be some global rule that business meetings should be staggered across the day. Why do I say that? Because I get really puffed when there’s a queue for printing reports for meetings all taking place at about the same time, which is usually just an hour before lunch (I think it’s an excuse to make a quick getaway). People get impatient and press all the wrong buttons, stopping and starting my programmes, which gets me very confused.
And if it’s more colour printing that’s needed, then there is only a handful of staff, like the young chap from planning with his presentations, who make sure I’m stocked up with the right cartridges. It’s a real pleasure to print their work (I won’t name the people who print multiple copies of invitations to parties, or cutesie photos of new babies. Or kittens for that matter. One woman refers to a cat as her ‘furbaby’. I’m glad pets aren’t allowed here, I’d get all choked up. Allergies.)
It’s all very well being a multifunctional printer, but that does mean more opportunities for people to take liberties with me. Just now someone came along and started photocopying a wodge of stuff, without removing the staples. How would they like being scratched repeatedly? It’s not just the work experience person or the intern, smartphone in hand, who’s the culprit. I’ve caught some high-ups at it.
It’s amazing what talents lie hidden in the office, which emerge in the lunch hour. There’s someone trying to write short stories – I’ve read some of their tales – and another who has come up with an idea for a niche business. And they have to put their efforts down on paper. I think they’re taking a risk printing such personal things on me for anyone to pick up. What if someone found out?
It’s a bit quieter, now that people are munching their sandwiches. I’m humming away idly, tucked in my corner. It’s also a corner where people come to talk. I feel sorry for the young woman who told a friend her colleague had stolen her ideas and put them forward as her own. Or the salesman who’s outperformed his targets but has been refused a raise. I’ve even had a hint of a boardroom coup…
It’s getting really busy now, and I’m so pleased that the office manager has stocked up my trays with paper. It does prevent an awful amount of trouble. Some people are really good and will choose double-sided printing, so it saves on paper. Others will print in draft. And there are those who will gather up the printouts that have been languishing by me for days and put them in the recycling bin.
But then there are the thoughtless ones who will use colour paper for black and white documents, or want to print charts and graphs in glossy and use matt instead, and then do it all over again.
Going home time
Here comes the rush, as people wrap up for the day. That also means I print some fairly bulky documents for people to read on the journey back (I’ve heard them grumbling about packed trains. At least I work from home). The organised ones have got their binders and folders ready to hand.
But this is also the time when someone forgets to check the print menu, so that A4 is printed on A3, or the other way round. Less haste, more speed – that’s what’s written on the whiteboard opposite me. Others get it spot on. Their status reports are pristine, the graphs crisp and clear. And it is a real pleasure for me to produce their work for them.
I Could Tell The CEO a Thing or Two.
About the dedicated staff who would stay late to complete a vital report; the conscientious people who try not to waste resources; the flippant ones who see nothing wrong in printing reams of discount and holiday vouchers. But most importantly of all, I’d tell him of the young woman who felt her ideas had been stolen and who had the courage to confront her colleague about it – but the decency to do it in private.
Still, that’s a story for another day. Right now the office is empty and the lights are out. Time for me to get some rest and be ready to help everyone tomorrow. A printer’s work is never done.
We were very sad to announce the passing of our beloved grumpy old b/w inkjet printer, Barry.
He had his own twitter account, and for some reason it is still active…