Originally published on LinkedIn (Nov. 2014)
I am writing to tell you how very sorry I am for behaving like an absolute ass. It seemed so hopeful at the start, didn’t it? When you fondled me in the aisle at Best Buy, your eyes aglow as they lit upon my features--- one-touch functions, manual duplexing and 2400 x 600 dpi effective output. I, too, had high hopes for our future together. We were so compatible. Like you, I multitasked----3-in-one, scanner, fax, copier. And a sleek framework to boot.
Who could blame you for hanging your hopes on me? I know it sounds like a cliché, but it wasn’t you. It was me--- Wanaka JetImage Laser Pro Office/Mate M44I2Lr.x
You brought me home, unpacked me with care and even took the time to read my manual before installation. Wireless, save for a wall socket, I was a modern wonder. In the honeymoon phase, I did it all. Spreadsheets, song lyrics, coupons, March Madness entry forms, recipes, scans of scans of faxes. Three copies of a 214-page report in four minutes. Collated. I lived up my promises. Fonts as crisp as starched cuffs. Quiet and cool as a cat on ice. It was almost like before you pressed, “command P” I knew what you wanted.
But I became resentful, sullen, jealous of your other gadgets, (could you get your peepers off that Droid screen for like two seconds?), lonely on all those nights when no one paid attention to me. Something began to fester in my circuitry when you casually placed a sweaty Juice Press concoction on my output tray.
A few days later, around 10:30pm on a rainy Monday, I watched you gleefully finish the last line of your CV.
“I’ll get you three copies by tomorrow morning, “ you had said over the phone. Something about a job, money, travel, whatever.
Sensing the urgency in the tap tap of your fingers on the keyboard, I began acting out, just like my maternal prototype. I paper jammed you. Harmless. Easy to fix. But, I made you sweat it---thrummed and whined while you wasted half a ream of paper and frantically called your IT “friend” Belinda in Culver City begging for help. At 1:27 am, I spit it out. Gave you what you wanted. And, you were so grateful, you actually hugged my casement.
But it was too late. The satisfaction I got from that crisis fueled a fury in me. When your son tried to finish his 6th grade term paper on a deadline, I shut down. My icon swirled like a soft serve siren. I even flashed “printing” as a tease. Then I sent a three-line refusal:
SPL- Error- Disconnected from the Host. Please check the connections and try again.Position: 0x1c315 (115477) System: src_5.59/os-hook “ What part of that message did you not understand? Am I that inscrutable?
You see, L., when you panic, I panic. When you’re in a hurry, I get flustered, and when you turn me on and off and on again, well, it doesn’t change a thing. It never will.
Hours later, your son in tears, you broke down and e-mailed the document to your mother across town. Her circa 2001 black and white cheapo printer somehow never fails. I can almost hear your mother gloating. Blah, blah, blah. And why did “you have to spend so much money on such a fancy machine that never works.” Blah, blah, blash. She’ll never understand us.
A few days later, feeling guilty and to make amends, I printed 16 copies of your search result for the definition of “glabella” along with the accompanying nine pages of banner ads for overnight delivery of contact lenses. And, yet you seemed upset with me.
Then there’s the “Fifty Shades of Half-Tone Gray” episode I would have rather forgotten. I really wanted to make your business plan look great…but how could I with my ink cartridges running low? So what if I played some part in the timing? I must admit I did love seeing the look on your face as you watched your “Sales Projections” page fade from obsidian black to acceptably legible to gray, then, finally, ghostly shadows of text.
You always made me feel worthless as you grumbled through the Office Depot website, complaining how “damn expensive” it was to replace my ink. Well, L, I’m high maintenance and you knew that going in.
You never seemed to appreciate how hard I tried. You always compared me to the “super responsive” printers at Kinko’s you were forced to use at 6 a.m. when I wouldn’t budge.
O.K., I’m sorry. Is that enough?
No more excuses. This time I will make it work for both of us.
But I’m afraid it’s too late. I know I’ve become obsolete as a dial-up. I know what’s in that Amazon box. Something that makes all kinds of promises with a full-year warranty. Actually, it’s worse than that. You’ve really changed. You claim you’re “moving on.” A designer now. You’ve claimed your new career requires something altogether different. Say it, L. Say it. “3-D”.