Monday, January 14, 2013

Print: Ellen Hawkins


I have a new printer. It’s a dud. I think it’s a cousin of my computer which is also a dud.
They both come from a future where every device is so sophisticated it falls over itself with pride and can’t remember what it was designed for in the first place. My printer, for example, is so modern it won’t print. 

            I need an old printer, one that actually works. But I know any replacement printer will come from the future and will be flawed. I wonder if I can sell this concept to the rulers in the Middle East. They’re generally at the forefront when it comes to notions that tend to snarl traffic rather than point towards a solution to whatever ails the region. Exchange new printers for old!! Your scud missile for my ballistic bozo! 
            I could make a fortune selling old printers to people with new printers because old printers were designed to work. I’d become famous. One day I’d have a print-off with say, Netanyahu, on CNN.  Of course we’d both lose, especially me because my TV, which also comes from the future, would fail at some important juncture and I’d be a no-show. The UN would fine me for wasting the world’s time and I’d spend the morning in jail. I bet I’d learn a thing or two about printers in there. The place would be reeking of printer geeks, the guys who design the duds. More likely, I’d be in solitary confinement or sharing a cell with another printer loser. We could commiserate about the injustices of the printing world, the gargantuan cost of an ink cartridge, the complexity of the instructions necessary to install the thing so that we can watch the printer use half the ink spewing out pages of stuff to confirm that the printer is indeed working. A millisecond before it stops.
            To be fair, my printer sometimes does indeed print a page or three, as requested, right before it goes to sleep. The next day it’s never heard of me and the only way it can be coaxed into printing is to reload the software. I’ve done that twice this week.  When it’s not having its software reloaded, my printer snoozes in the corner until I say, knock, knock and it says who’s there and I say me, your bleeping owner, and please can I have a few copies and it says the printer equivalent of sod off.  I exaggerate. Most days it smiles and pretends I’m not there. What is required is a bomb to coax it into action, but the bomb imbedded in the word ‘okay’ print command never goes off. It too is a dud.  Nevertheless I play the game: select the correct printer, the page range, the number of copies, and then I press the button that says okay, we’re armed for delivery. Print!
            The printer is too busy laughing its head off, totally entertained by me and my index finger. Even as I call it unprintable names I know, and my printer knows, that it’s never going to print this.

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