Friday, April 27, 2007

Copier Karma

When I was a teenager, (many, many, years ago) I had several jobs in many different offices. Invariably part of that job would entail engaging a copy machine. And I don't mean a proposal of marriage. Oh, no this is a proposal of an entirely different kind. As I progressed through several jobs, I became better acquainted with various kinds of copiers and their unique quirks. Little did I know that these jobs were preparing me for one of the daunting jobs of motherhood: PARENT HELPER.
At the beginning of each year, I arrange with my children's teacher to help in the class for an hour or two each week. This decision is based on the advice of a wise friend and mother that volunteering in one classroom is less draining than volunteering for the PTA. And yet a useful way to show my child that I value their education and want to contribute to their success. Although I did help with the PTA for the first two years Trent was in school, I have found it to be a vortex of endless need I need to avoid like the plague. And just like avoiding a black hole, I have avoided what I fear may drain my last drop of life source I like to call the "will to live." And so instead I have helped in my child's classroom pretty much each week. I guess I believed all that stuff they send home saying that studies show that children whose parents are involved in their education do better. This is probably just propaganda produced by the school system facing budget cuts and looking for free labor, but I digress.
Each week I show up and almost with out fail the teacher will say "Could you make some copies.?" And this is where I often foolishly say "Sure how many do you need?" And then I am laden with several workbooks with sticky notes sticking from the pages I need to copy and several reams of paper weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of a ton. And yes you must haul your own paper down to the copy room, because paper is a valuable resource not to be left unguarded near the copier where hapless oafs can waste it all. And off I go wondering the ever pressing question "Will I have good copier karma today or not?" Yes over the many years that I have dealt with copiers, I have come to find that there is such a thing as copier karma. Whether or not you have good copier karma will determine your copying experience.
Will it take 15 minutes or 3 days?
Will the two sided feature actually work or not?
Will you burn various parts of your arm as you unjam page after page of crinkled, ink smeared paper?
Will you run out of paper and have to walk the mile back to the room to obtain the last 2 pieces you need to finish the copy job?
Will you accidentally push the enlarge button and only copy the right had corner of the 120 page book you are copying?
Will there be a line around the school yard just to get a turn on the copier so you can find out the answers to the questions already mentioned?
These are just a few of the things good copier karma will determine. I am constantly amazed at how different my copying experience can be. Whether I am done quickly and have a great feeling of competency and accomplishment, or whether I stand there so long I loose the feeling in my feet and wonder how someone smart enough to earn a college degree can be stupid enough to show up week after week to be defeated and frustrated by a machine all in the hands of copier karma. Copier karma, you either have it or you don't. If only there were some sort of chart that could be consulted or a gauge on the room of the copier room wall. You know kind of like a radioactive gauge or something. Anyone else had similar experiences, or is it just me?

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