Thursday, May 18, 2006

Copy Drama

Great ideas come from recognizing the lack of something in our lives and seeking to develop a way to meet that need. From these ideas emerge the advancements of society. Ben Franklin invented electricity because he saw a need for something more functional than a candle. The Wright brothers invented the airplane, which has become the most efficient mode of international transportation. Thomas Edison invented the telephone to make it easier for people to communicate across states and countries. And James Watt invented the letter-copier, the pre-cursor to the modern day copy machine, in the late 1800s to save us from hand copying documents, which must have been a full-time job. Can you imagine going to a massive board meeting in the 1800s and hand copying 100 sets of the presentation? So maybe they used less paper then because it wasn’t economical or efficient, but I have to be grateful for the modern miracle of copy machines. However, it is amazing to me how a simple task such as making photocopies can become a production of dramatic proportions.

So I ran out of ink on my color printer the other day and needed several copies of a presentation. The only logical option was to take my files to Kinkos around the corner because they could probably do it faster and more cost effectively than I could since they were in color. I had an unfortunate experience at Kinkos the last time I went there, but I figured they deserved a second chance. So I go to the self-service computers, pull up my files and begin printing. I obviously took for granted that when the guy said the machine was working properly that it actually was. I didn’t think to check, so I printed out nearly all of my files, which would have resulted in somewhere around 300 pages only to go to the printer and discover that they printed a bit askew. Well that was unacceptable. The guy at the counter suggested I go upstairs, request a refund of the charges on my credit card and see if they could print it on their machines. So I did. But the gentleman at that counter pointed to a pile of parts lying on the floor, a stark indication that their color printer was out of commission. I had by this time already wasted 30 minutes of my time. So I got a refund and decided to go to Office Depot down the street. In this game, it’s two strikes and you’re out. Kinkos is on my blacklist.

I got to Office Depot thinking that my printing nightmare was about to be over. But when I told her what I needed and handed her my little USB device, she said she couldn’t do it. Three hundred pages of color copies… do you have any idea how much money that is??? That’s over $300 worth of business down the drain because their archaic computer could not accommodate my standard USB device. They must change that immediately. By this time, I was rather peeved and wished I had my own color copier, so I could do this myself. I decided to hit up the next office store – Staples, and as luck would have it there were only 2 people working in their copy center and one was enjoying their first day on the job amidst some chaos. I offered to make the copies myself on the self service machines if they could just print the first copy. This took some time because someone was missing their letterhead and the older lady ahead of me didn’t get back her original copy and the phone was ringing and the machine refused to work. Two hours and a couple hundred dollars later, I was finished. A project that should have taken 30 minutes took 2 hours…unbelievable.

As I walked back to the office, I considered that it would be more economical and time efficient if we just had our own color copy machine. At least then I am in control of when I make my copies, what projects are ahead of me, and what happens when something goes wrong. I hate relying on the incompetence of others. It’s interesting how I don’t really think about the phenomenon of copy machines. I just put the paper in the slot and push the button and Voila!! I have a copy. Sure beats hand copying. So I have Mr. Watts to thank for saving me from hand copying and coloring all these presentations as well as making my copying life a dramatic and exasperating experience. I shall take the lesser of two evils and deal with inconvenience over mindless, time-wasting repetition.

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