I am at war.
Not in a metaphor, metaphysical, metanarrative sense - "I am at war with myself, roar."
No, I am at literal, "I want to bomb the crap out of this and defeat you entirely," war.
With the school copier.
Oh, excuse me, "risograph."
My officemate and I joke frequently about how long it takes to do copies at school because they always take so long. Granted, the copier at Baylor was no picnic either, but at least I knew what to do with that thing. With a Risograph, I don't have the slightest clue what to do when something goes wrong.
And something will, inevitably, go wrong. Every. Single. Time.
Two days ago, I had to copy a test for my students. The machine paused when I was attempting to make a sample copy of page two (of a three page test). The machine jammed, so I opened it up where it told me and removed the papers. I pushed it shut again (no easy task, mind!), only to discover the display still blinking at me and pointing at a certain part. So I opened it up again, saw no papers, checked inside, underneath, everywhere. And so no papers.
After about 5 minutes of staring at it and wondering what the heck was wrong, I went and got someone from the office to help me out. Apparently, risographs have this big roll of inked paper in them rather than just toner, and that needed to be replaced. It's a fairly simple process, but one I had never seen before.
Today, it jammed on me again while I was making more copies. Ooh, fun. This time it was a different part of the machine. So I opened it up and saw a sheet of paper hopelessly trapped in the bowels of the copier. After several failed attempts to pulled it out (during which course I got ink all over my hands - evidence in picture), a fellow teacher came over and pushed a button. WHOOSH. Out came the paper.
But then, was my problem fixed? Nope! Evidently, when a roll of ink is being used up, it gets wrapped up around a rod on the other side of the machine, which needs to be cleaned off periodically. After another few minutes of trying to figure it out, the same teacher from before came over and showed me what to do. I thanked him profusely, and finished my printing without a problem.
These machines are incredibly frustrating simply because of what appears to be a highly inefficient design. As someone so used to copiers that give warnings - "Out of paper," "Toner Low," etc - a machine that simply jams when there's a problem just doesn't make sense. But that seems to be the standard operating procedure - jam up, and then tell the user about the problem. It's highly inefficient, especially since several sheets of paper get destroyed in the process.
Maybe I'm just doing things wrong. Maybe I'm just not giving it the grace it needs, or talking to it nicely enough. "Goldarnit you stupid machine!" is probably not the kindest thing to exclaim when it jams on me for the third time in 10 pages.
All I know is that this machine makes me want to beat my head against a wall, and that's never good.
That said, I have exciting news. I received a letter (or rather, my parents received a letter addressed to me) from the estate of one JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. I had sent her publishers a bound copy of my thesis, which they evidently passed on to her. The letter is from her personal assistant, Fiddy Henderson, thanking me for sending along the bound copy, and saying that Ms Rowling wanted to pass along her appreciation. It's a form letter of sorts, but it does not preclude further communication from the woman herself, and it means that my MA thesis actually made it to JKR's vicinity. Exciting news indeed!!!