There are many perks to working from home but having access to a printer wasn’t one of them. At least it wasn’t until I bought a printer for home a few weeks ago. And, to be perfectly honest, it still isn’t because a month on I still can’t get the damn machine to work.
The purchase of a printer had been put off, not due to an exorbitant price tag, but due to its low placement on the list of household priorities and a stubborn belief that the days of hard copies were nearly behind us.
The culmination of a few vital forms that each needed printing in the same week proved the tipping point, so after a little online research, my husband ventured out and bought a modest wireless printer.
Terrific, I thought, until I remembered, with a sinking stomach, that of the various strengths my husband and I enjoy, being tech savvy isn’t one of them.
We are both tech-dinosaurs which is all fun and games until there is a piece of equipment that requires installing. Or software that needs updating. Or anything related to Apple or iTunes. At these points, our attempts quickly descend into crying debacles.
We each attempted to get the printer to work but weren’t successful and ended up giving up in a storm of frustration. If you are thinking at this point, how hard can it possibly be? Let me enlighten you.
If the printer came with a USB cord it would have been as simple as plugging it into either one of our laptops and pressing print. But do you think it came with a USB cord? It didn’t. Presumably because USB cables are deemed unnecessary in the face of a population seemingly adept at navigating technology. (The fact the USB cable option was cited in the instructions as a cinch does seem a little cruel.)
In the absence of a USB cable, we had to route the printer through our wireless modem to get the thing to work. And this is where the fun really started. According to the instructions we simply had to hold down the blue tooth discovery button on the printer for three seconds and voila, it would find the router, hook itself up and we’d be printing in no time.
Except the printer couldn’t find the router. Cruelly, the printer would fire up, as would our hopes, and print a page that we were told should read “Connection Successful”. Except it kept printing a page that said: “Connection unsuccessful. No device found. You are a MORON”.
(It didn’t actually say the moron bit but that was clearly the subtext.)
The trouble-shooting guide helpfully suggested if this particular error message appeared, we would need to temporarily move the printer closer to the router. Our router can’t move because it is plugged into the only telephone line in the house which just happens to be near the kitchen bench. So we would lug the printer away from the desk in our room, where it was meant to live, to the kitchen bench, where there were invariably either kids being fed, food being prepared, or food ready to be cleared up.
While one of us managed the food prep side of the equation, the other would try, in vain, to get the printer working. The error message continued to get spat out, rage would rise, and we’d sensibly conclude the smart option would be to try again another time.
Over the course of a week we “tried again” at least seven times, and the damn thing still would never connect. Even writing this is maddening and I can feel my blood pressure building: it is a printer – how hard can it possibly be?!
It came to a rather disastrous head on a recent Tuesday evening at around 9.30pm. I was due to MC an all-day event the next morning and wanted to print an updated copy of my notes. In a moment of clarity I had printed my notes at an OfficeWorks that day, on the highly likely chance the printer at home still wouldn’t be cooperating.
But, that evening I had met the speakers I was due to facilitate the next day and one of the sessions had changed considerably so I wanted to print an updated copy of my notes. Which is how I found myself battling an uncooperative printer for an hour between 9.30pm and 10.30pm, at which point I was engaged in some fairly ferocious dialogue – with myself, my husband and the dreaded printer.
I pride myself on being organised and quite professional and the image of the ensuing chaos – a mad woman in her pyjamas, late at night, actually battling a lifeless piece of technology – was a picture of incompetence. It certainly didn’t match the image of competence I was hoping to project the next day.
It is not the first time I have felt that chasm between the appearance of work and home. I am yet to meet a working parent who hasn’t straddled the divide between feeling utterly improper while seeking to feed, dress and escorting small people out of the house malarkey, and then, half an hour later stepping into a meeting room projecting an air of professionalism and competence.
Eventually I conceded defeat: I was beaten by a printer. I had an electronic set of my notes on my laptop and my tablet and I knew that would have to suffice. There is something comforting about a hard set of notes, it can be scribbled on and added to easily, but technology is also perfectly adequate. And it would have to be because a printed copy was beyond me.
As I got into bed I had to laugh, though trust me when I say tears were equally likely. I am organised and professional but I am deeply flawed when it comes to technology.
Meanwhile there is a printer going cheap on gumtree because it STILL WON’T WORK.