Going back to school can be humbling. Never mind lunch in the middle school cafeteria with my oldest and six of his friends or playing “pin the spider on the web” with 40 or so sometimes-reluctant-to-be-blindfolded-and-spun-in-circles kindergartners at their Halloween party – last week I went in for 4th grade recess duty.
Normally this means I’d hang out with them and remind them of playground rules (which no doubt they know better than me to begin with), but since it was raining, the kids had indoor recess in their classrooms. The teachers took their breaks while aides watched the classes, and they didn’t really need me in the room, though my son’s teacher told me I was welcome to stay in the class if I thought my son would like it.
“No, that’s okay, I am sure he’s just happy that I’m nearby. Do you need me to do anything else…?”
And that is how I became acquainted with the school copier. After conferring with the teacher across the hall, it was decided that they needed 4 x 30 booklets of six pages, collated and stapled and could we double side some of the pages, but not these two pages…
I must have looked blank because my son’s teacher said, “Never mind, that’s too complicated. You can do the whole thing single sided.”
So, I went into the copy room to make the originals from the teacher workbook, but then spaced on whether the booklets were supposed to be four pages or six pages…
I stepped out of the copy room, and fortunately ran into the across the hall teacher. Not only did she set me straight, “You are right, it’s six,” but also she helped me figure out how to program the machine to go from six to four pages by double siding two of them.
I said, “Oh, great! So, I can just press that green button again to repeat the sequence for the other three batches, right?”
“Yes,” she assured me, and left to escort her class to lunch.
I admired how the machine chugged along, and how fast it was. And how the papers came out the other side stapled into tiny stacks, until…
…the copier jammed.
Oh, no! I thought about the potential waste of paper, the big mess, having to start all over, other people potentially waiting to use the copier, and realized how hot it was in that room.
Okay, don’t panic. The LED screen on the machine was coaching me on what to do.
I followed the instructions, opening door A, and panel B, and pulling out this tray, and unlocking that. I ended up on my knees in front of the machine. Please God, let this work…
…eventually I pulled out two or three jammed pieces of paper. I realized that the paper tray was nearly empty and refilled it. And presto, everything began working again. I babysat the rest of the batch to make sure the pages weren’t off. They weren’t. That machine is smart!
But then it beeped at me again. It was out of staples. God help me, I thought. Where in the world are the staples, and even if I could find them, where do they go?
I sighed and took off my hoodie. It sure was hot in there. Then I poked around the copy room for a bit and noticed that there were several staplers on the table behind me – of course! I can staple the old fashioned way. I pressed buttons to continue this batch without staples.
For the final two batches, I had to figure out how to reprogram the whole job because the machine wouldn’t accept the pre-programmed “collated/stapled” request with no staples.
I glanced at the clock. I had a 1:30 conference call to discuss (confidential work things that I can’t write about here), and there I was trying to outwit a copier.
It took me a very long time, but I emerged from the room triumphant, with my four stacks of booklets, my hoodie slung over my shoulder…and a note to let the teacher know the machine needed staples. I walked quickly back to my home office and made it just in time for my meeting, grateful that for the previous 45 minutes — despite being humbled by the detour from my comfort zone (my copier at home is one with my fax machine and scanner) — all I had to worry about was making copies.