My printer at home only works if I stare at it. The conclusions I draw from this is either it likes me and wants me close at all times or that it is distracting attention from the dastardly attack the toaster is planning behind my back.
It is one of those HP all-in-one printers that cost £100 three years ago, and now presumably comes free with a magazine. It is shaped like a breezeblock and can withstand both cats using it as a springboard to the window-sill, and me treating every paper jam as a tug of war. I have so far been impressed with the printer’s agreeable nature, but things are set to change.
I cannot have a printer that only works if I hover nearby like an anxious parent.
Take today. Today I wanted to print out chapter’s four to six for a final read-through to see if there were any oddities hanging around that needed to be pounced upon from a high height. Yet already there are rituals – I cannot just stack the printer with paper. I have to rifle through the A4 pages first in the hope they won’t all attempt to sail through the printer’s mechanisms in one go – the theory being ‘air between the pages’ will help. I then can only stack in around 30 pages at a time, as too many or too few will have the same effect – the printer will dramatically choke to death in splutters and wheezes like a hammy actor. Once stacked, I then have to rest my hand gently on the top page, like I am feeling for a pulse, as the printer goes into action. This seems to calm it down and stops it from a paper feeding frenzy.
Once the printer is in motion I cannot walk away. Walking away means acceptance that the printer will do its job and actually print without needing me as a reluctant audience. If I walk away I shall come back to find the printer choking to death, and the computer flashing an error message. I shall then find that whatever I wanted printed will have missed a few pages in spite. Yet if I stay near, it prints perfectly.
Maybe it is lonely? Maybe I don’t give it enough love and care. I mean – do I ever really align the pages from the test print like you are supposed to when you insert new ink cartridges? I bang the Hoover against it on (ahem) rare occasions and I let it get too hot next to the radiator. I haven’t clicked into ‘printer tools’ for ages. I rarely press its buttons, so it seems.
Now I feel sorry for it.