Shortly after I figured out how to set the time on my department’s fax machine from Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Gotham City, it started jamming. I diagnosed that it needed the roller replaced.
“Help me. I need a new roller.”
Therefore, I notified an assistant at the Grind about the situation and asked if she could set up a service call. She told me that our 14-year-old fax no longer rates a contract. She advised we get a new one.
Me: But it only needs the roller replaced, we’re talking a $2 part. It can send faxes just fine.
She said she’d discuss it with our company’s I.T. guy, Mr. Hat.
Mr. Hat: I’ll get you a new one.
Me: Can’t you take a look at it first?
Mr. Hat: I’ll visit next week.
Translation: he thinks it’s a lost cause. As far as waiting days to visit, his office is located three floors away from ours. He could visit in less than three minutes.
Me (bleating to my colleagues): Why must this take days?
My sidekick, Greg, and (not) Under Ling (anymore) are as baffled as me.
Greg: Can you get the part online? Maybe we can install it?
Two years ago, Greg and I performed brain surgery on our color printer. We got it to work again. I call Canon and speak to a technician named Mike who asks me the model of our fax machine.
Me: We have a CFX L4000.
Mike: I don’t have that one on my list. When did you get it?
Me: During the Hoover administration.
Mike puts me on hold. He is probably accessing Canon’s Obsolete Machines Database or his Magic 8 Ball. He returns and explains that they no longer service this model but he gives me the name and number of a local technician that might be able to help. I call the technician and I’m told that they no longer service our machine because they can no longer get replacement parts. She declares:
Technician: Nobody really sends faxes anymore. Everyone uses email.
Me (deadpan): Email? What’s that?
There’s an awkward pause except for the crickets on the other end of the line.
Me: That was a joke.
She rocket launches into a sales pitch trying to entice me with a souped-up fax machine that can do countless things that I’m tuning out.
Technician: I’ll even give you ten percent off! What do you think of that?
Me: I think we’ll use email.
I walk over to our fax machine and have a blunt chat with it.
Me: Listen, if you don’t suck up the paper anymore, you’re gonna end up in a landfill.
Instantly, it prints a fax. Greg and (not) Under Ling (anymore) are both up on their feet. The three of us gather at the fax machine. We’re jubilant.
Greg: What did you do to get it to work again?
Me: I told it it could end up in a landfill.
I call our colleague, Rhonda, and ask her to send a test fax. She does and again it works!
I leave The Grind for the weekend feeling empowered. I fantasize about marketing my phenomenal powers of persuasion. The ability to speak to office machines could save small businesses thousands if not millions and make me millions. Whoa!
Finally, I may have found my calling in life! Suddenly, my unique skill will turn my dismal finances around. With my newfound success I can afford that beach house I’ve never wanted since I can’t tan or swim. Yet, why be selfish? I’ll write a check that will pay for my niece’s entire college career and even throw in a car for Sweet Pea. Milton and I will always sit in premium center orchestra seats and see every Broadway show. Come to think of it, I must finance the staging of one of my pal Albee’s plays. I’ll donate heavily to whatever event Martini Max is spearheading over in New Jersey, even if it involves Jerry Lewis, who I utterly loathe. Plus I cannot forget my fashionista buddy, Coco. She gets a blank check to feed her Christian Louboutin shoe habit. Also, what about my loyal colleagues, Greg and (not) Under Ling (anymore)? He can have that baritone sax he wants and she, a crate of videogames. I should not just focus on material gifts for my posse. I must also pursue worthy philanthropic concerns. Gee, where to start? The world is such a troubled place. I’ll go through my junk mail for information about what crusades George Clooney endorses.
When I return to work on Monday, our fax machine is jammed again.
Ominous red alarm light.
For an hour I give it the office machine equivalent of mouth-to-mouth. My credibility as an office machine whisperer and potential seven-figure income are on the line. Unfortunately, nothing I do, even speaking to it in the single word of the French I retain from five years of inattentive study (“merde!”) can persuade it to pull up paper.
Resigned that I’m just a fax machine whispering fraud, I do what I hate. I admit defeat. I call Mr. Hat and ask him to order us a new one.
Two minutes later he enters our office carrying the fax machine he ordered a week earlier — when our problems started.
It’s so state-of-the-art, it can work within five minutes, even though it takes Greg and I closer to two hours to get it going.
Five minutes to get it to print. Another 115 minutes to get it to fax … Probably because everyone uses email.
Me: All we needed was 24 five-minute intervals to set it up.
“Talk to me. I’m a good listener.”