I knew the printer wasn’t working when no typed pages flew out of its up-front opening where typed pages are supposed to fly out. Great! I spend a week feeding it $18 cartridges of yellow, magenta and black, and now that its appetite had been sated, no output. And, by the way, what marketing genius conceived of the scam where the color “black” demands yellow and magenta. It makes as much sense as filling your car with gas but the car won’t go unless you also buy a six pack of beer and two bags of potato chips.
Clearly, I needed a new printer. This clever machine announced its death in a dialect that even I understood. After some 10 years of service, it had gone to that junkyard in the sky where you could print black without magenta or yellow.
I needed a new printer. Even worse, I would have to properly introduce the printer to the computer. I’m a scribbler not an engineer. But then relief, as I thought of my great-grandchild in kindergarten. He was already 6 – he knew all about ’puters, as he called them. No, not a good idea – better my third-grade grandchild – much more experienced.
That thought cost me a quart of strawberry ripple ice cream, and alarm at his mature and loud vocabulary as failure followed failure. Then inspiration lightened the room as I thought of an engineering friend who loved key lime pie. My wife, who didn’t know a printer from a nuclear reactor either, had just made a key lime pie! What followed was the shortest marketing phone conversation on record.
“Henry, come on over and help me share a key lime pie.”
He came. Ate three pounds of key lime pie. We finished. The pie was as dead as the printer. Henry, though, full of pie, was – as I planned – in a jovial mood. I showed him around our house. And, somehow, we ended in the computer room.
“Hey Ted, the wire between the computer and printer isn’t connected.” (My third grader never noticed that! Public schools today are atrocious.) At this point, I hung my head and confessed the whole key lime pie inducement scheme. Nonetheless, my friend – what a friend! – jumped in the driver’s seat. He pushed buttons, tied wires, cursed, sweated. He condemned every printer you could imagine, as my chaste computer wouldn’t mate with the printer.
I didn’t get the whole picture but it had something to with it being a new printer and the ’puter having an old operating system. Such snobbery. It was age discrimination. That lousy printer should end up in court for rejecting the advances of my senior computer.
Not to worry, however. As in most fairytales – though this story is the absolute truth – we somehow found a happy ending. My friend, his forehead wet with frustration, mentioned that he saw another printer in my bedroom.
“Yeah, it’s an old one,” I said. “Somebody gave it to me.”
The word “old” rang in the room like a bell. His eyes lit up like he’d just drained a fifth of champagne.
“Go get it!” he screamed.
Sure enough, the old printer loved that old operating system. The two devices mated in front of our eyes. In fact, together they made this love story.
Ted Roberts is a freelance writer and humorist living in Huntsville, Ala. His website is wonderwordworks.com.