The copier cops out

Elise T. Chisolm

December 15, 1992|By Elise T. Chisolm

Have you kicked your copier today? Yep, that's what thousands of office workers across the county do at least once a day when they can't get the copier to copy.

Copiers may be the most unloved objects in the office. Well, I'm sorry, but I can see why.

Someone said to me the other day, "Surely you will get your own copier now that you have your own computer and printer in your home."

"Surely you jest," I answered. "I can't operate one without jumping up and down or breaking out in a cold sweat."

I am a practicing technophobe. The years I've spent floundering in directions for various copy machines -- in the news room, the public libraries, office supply stores, even convenience stores -- add up to a lifetime of grinding my teeth and longing for the days at the newspaper when we used carbon paper.

Don't make me count the ways I have been sabotaged by a photo copier machine, sometimes at 25 cents a sheet for my paper trail disaster.

Ah, the hours I've spent at copy machines pretending that I knew what I was doing. And then trying to feed new paper into its belly to start over.

Journalism schools don't teach dejamming.

With red, yellow or green blinking lights, buttons, knobs and arrows to confuse, it is no wonder people in offices want to kick the machines. Yeah, I know, copy machines are abused, but even a robot is easier to operate.

To say nothing of the copiers' cute instructions that blink at you -- "ready, re-set, stat." Just figuring out the way to place the article to be copied can be tricky.

Yesterday, a man waiting for me to finish copying -- and wouldn't you know it would be a man -- told me that his 4-year-old can operate copy machines easily. Oh, well. But I'm not alone.

According to an article in Fortune magazine, "Why your Copier Isn't Working," you can learn to get along with your machine. The article states: "Cars, stoves, vibrating beds -- scant years after each of these was introduced, engineers had worked out the kinks."

But they also report that a recalcitrant copier has reduced even a Wharton School graduate to tears.

Fortune admits that users of copiers still cross their fingers every time they push "print" And that of 60 copiers in Boise Cascade's Idaho headquarters, 30 percent at any given time don't work.

So there. Lots of copiers should be in sick bay and not stressing us out.

The solution, says Boise, is to put copiers in the hands of those who know how to use them, have a copy center, or let users pick the brand they want in their offices.

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