Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gertrude the mamba jamba

I do not like complaining, but I sure seem to do it a lot. Oh well.

I do not have very many complaints about work. Which is to say, I complain a lot, but it's always about the same thing: schmucks, suits, watermelons, and mice. The people that are eventually going to drive me to drink.

That said, my least favorite part of one of my old jobs was my proximity to Gertrude, the big mamba jamba printer. Everyone is afraid of this beast of machinery, intimidated by the plethora of buttons and the complexity of the display. You remember the line from Office Space, I hope? Forgive the profanity, but this is a direct quote and it doesn't work without it:

" 'PC Load Letter'? What the fuck does that mean?"

Subtract the expletive (and therefore the comedy) and that is what I listened to all day.

It seemed like every hour on the hour someone would be fussing with it or bumbling around and opening paper drawers to see if she was out of paper (even though the display said, "Misfeed detected" they always thought it was out of paper).

Gertrude is advanced enough that when there is a "misfeed" (fancy way of saying the paper fuckedup), a diagram of the machine will show up on the display with a little blinking dot at the misfeed location. The worst is when you see about 7 dots; that means you really did a number on her. Still, it's pretty smart if you ask me, but the functionality of this feature also relies on the intelligence of the operator.

Big mistake on the part of the manufacturer.

In all office situations, no one ever looks at the display. A person who is trying to make a copy stands there and watches the paper jam as it goes through the feeder (which is due north on the machine), and yet they still inevitably look south toward the paper drawers. Is it really that difficult?

Yes, a thousand times yes. It is that difficult.

Everyone treats me like the keeper of the machine. Fairly accurate, as I order the toner and the paper that go inside of it, but infuriating all the same. I went to school and studied literature and writing, and Gertrude has transformed me into a copy machine repairwoman.

Still, even after saying all of that, I don't mind. I really don't, regardless of how sarcastic this is coming off. I don't mind helping people figure out the buttons ("Duplex means double-sided? Oooooh!") I don't mind taking out the toner and shaking it when the quality first starts getting poor. I don't mind ordering paper.

What I mind is the damnable Dumb Look of Helplessness and Expectation. When Gertrude jams, sometimes she makes a horrible sound. Technically it's the roller skidding on the paper, unable to get traction, and then the paper getting crimped up in the most inconvenient cubby that it can find. But it sounds like she did a big, major, inexcusable fart, right at the dinner table.

One of those explosive ones that you can't pretend you didn't hear.

I hate that sound. Not because it makes me laugh inside to think of Gertrude farting, but because it is followed shortly thereafter by that look. The Dumb Look of Helplessness and Expectation.

To all coworkers, that sound means Get Kate. Don't even think of trying to take care of it yourself, the machine farted so you better throw your hands up in the air and give up. And I wouldn't even mind the unofficial title of Expert if it wasn't bestowed upon me with the undertone that whoever jammed the machine is somehow above digging out their own mess.

"You made the mess, you clean it up" . . . isn't that a rudimentary lesson learned and reinforced all throughout childhood? Like starting in preschool? When you're done with the play dough, put it away. Don't track mud in the house when you've been making mud pies. Take your dishes to the sink.

Somehow though, cleaning up your own mess doesn't apply to copy machines. Better call the maid to clean it up for you. The bigger the mess, the less likely they are to clean it up. They jam up the machine and then turn around and stare at me with this look . . . I just want to punch them when I see it.

It says, You there. Maid. Take care of this.

I just stare right back and try to copy the same Dumb Look of Helplessness and Expectation, which so far has not been successful in conveying the appropriate amount of kissmyassness.

1 comment:

plentymorefishoutofwater said...

Haha, so much truth in this. I'm sorry though, you DO sit closest and that DOES mean you have to look after it. FACT :-)
Nice blog, looking forward to more.
plentymorefishoutofwater.blogspot.com/

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