If technology won’t work, neither will I

6-25 Page 4A.inddSome people don’t believe in the devil, but that’s because they don’t use technology in their work. I’ve met the devil. He shows up on occasion and takes over the computer and printer in my home office. I can cite incident after incident to back up this claim.

For the past six months, I’ve been working on a project that has consisted of research, writing, discarding, deleting, rewriting, editing, starting over completely and occasionally taking a break.

The most recent rewrite was completed. I finished nine pages of dialogue between two key characters. All I needed to do was print it.

A simple thing, you might think. I had to have it by 2 p.m. and began trying to print at 1 p.m. My printer, which admittedly is about 100 years old, sometimes exhibits a tendency to lie down on the job. But not in a predictable way. No, I am blessed with a creative printer. It’s very selective about what it will print, and when it malfunctions there’s no way to correct the problem until it gets good and ready to cooperate.

That’s because Satan has taken possession of its inner workings and is taking a sadistic delight in the thing almost performing but falling short at the most critical point in a project.

Last week, my printer told me it needed to have the ink cartridges replaced. I knew this was coming, but I hoped it would wait just a little longer. So, naturally, it didn’t.

It costs twice as much as it used to cost to buy the same ink cartridges that were formerly affordable. But I bit the bullet and bought them, came home and installed them.

The printer worked beautifully for all of 10 minutes, which, I guess is better than nothing.

I needed those nine pages in the worst way. Every time I gave the command to print, it would malfunction in a different way.

At first it said there was an error. So I checked and found a backup in the print queue. Once this was corrected, it decided to print seven of the nine pages, but not in order.

It printed a blank page and half of page two in the mix.

I copied and pasted page two into a separate document and tried to print it by itself. It printed the top half.

Once more, I tried to print the entire document. It refused to print any portion of page two, but it did a great job on one, three, four, five, six, seven and eight. Nine was close to being printed completely but was missing the first two sentences at the top of the page. Just for the heck of it.

I shut everything down and let it rest for a few minutes. I rested, too, taking slow, deep breaths and leaving the room before cranking up again.

It acted like it was going to work. No error messages or problems. It started making the little humming sound it makes just before spitting out pages. But that’s all it did. It made the sounds, but there was no follow-through. It was laughing at me.

Had I a hammer close at hand, I would happily have beaten it into a pile of broken plastic, kicked the remains down the stairs and out into the driveway, driven the car over it all, then torched it with a flame thrower. I really wanted to kill it, and in a painful way. But there was no hammer nearby. Finally I did the only thing left to do. I emailed the document to a friend with a working printer, and he was able to print it off for me.

Anytime a deadline looms, something along these lines happens. There is no logical explanation. It is much easier to just accept the fact that the devil is entertaining himself by driving me to the brink of insanity and let it go at that.

Oh, the wonders of technology when it doesn’t work. It can bring the world to its knees.