Judith Armatta

Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist and human rights activist

THIS MACHINE HATES ME!

It’s only the latest. First there was my desktop computer. Then it was the new laptop. Before that, it was the television. And, of course, my cell phone. The latest is my printer/copier. None of them are fond of me. They find ways to disturb my peace and to make me sound like a raving maniac. Very successful, they are.

Confession first. I am a Luddite. I miss my electric typewriter. I miss a landline. I miss a television with only four channels and a dial. I called the first computer I used “Murphy” after Murphy’s law (whatever can go wrong will go wrong). You young folks keep “improving” technology, then try to explain it to us Luddites from another era using your tech terms that make instructions read like Mandarin or Gaelic spoken backward. I do not live with anyone under the age of 40. I do not have an IT person at my beck and call. I’m on my own with changes (should I mention that I hate Microsoft 10?) and glitches and major breakdowns. Now, without the ability to take a device to someone with tech expertise, I’m really on my own—an unhappy prospect for my partner who must listen to me rant and rave. I haven’t yet destroyed anything.

Which brings me to the latest breakdown. My printer/copier. It was working fine until I tried to stop it in the middle of a print job. It didn’t like it. Though it eventually started again, it didn’t last long. Soon, I got the dreaded flashing light and ERROR MESSAGE: “An error has occurred. The printer needs repair. Turn the device off and unplug the power cord from the power supply [i.e. electric outlet]. Then see the manual and contact the service center.”

I looked through the entire 100 page manual but found no advice for this problem. The service center was closed. I went on-line and watched several videos, showing me how to fix this particular problem, one video was in German. In another, a very pleasant woman demonstrated a trick, which unfortunately didn’t work for me. She suggested the company programs this error into their printers so that people will buy new ones (assuming we would be stupid enough to buy the same brand!). My favorite video was by a fellow who started by laying out the tools I would need, beginning with a bottle of beer. So far so good. Then, a screwdriver, an electric screwdriver, and a hammer. He proceeded to take a swig of beer, then to unscrew parts of the printer. I was a little disconcerted when he took the beer outside, then returned for the printer which he placed in his firepit. He opened the printer cover and poured beer all over it. Next, he walked over to a woodpile and selected a large log and proceeded to smash it on top of the computer. He wasn’t done. He picked up the hammer and struck the printer over and over and over until it was a jumble of plastic and he was well satisfied. He finished the beer.

I haven’t been that brave yet, but I do have a hammer.

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