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Friday, March 9, 2012

They can only talk to each other

Today I have to mention my job, which I thought I’d never do. I hold an elected position with no authority.  I work for the people, but report to the Auditor of State.  In order to keep us clerks on the right side of Ohio Revised Code, the Auditor of State (AOS) supplies an accounting program that only runs on Ohio Revised Code.  If you know even simple bookkeeping, like balancing a checkbook, you recognize the oxymoron.  But, this is government.  In addition, AOS sells us the computer and printer.  By us I don’t mean myself; it is the taxpayers of my township whose money buys all this.   Every three years.  Stop.  Don’t even go there.  This story is about two technicians.

The last AOS, a woman, wisely decided every three years is too soon, so now printers are replaced every four years and CPU’s every five.  Still a waste, in my opinion, but I have no authority…

After several fanfare emails, a new printer arrived Monday.  The two boxes sat on my office floor for several days, until a road department guy came by and lifted the halves out of the boxes and onto my desk.  Bless his young heart and knees, he crawled under the desk, found all the old printer’s points of connection and unplugged them, then carried the old printer to the storeroom.  I won’t mention waste of money again.

Following the new AOS specific list of instructions, I put the disc of new printer drivers in the tray, shut the drawer and waited for the hum to stop.  At the instruction I plugged it in, turned it on.  Error message.  I called the help line.  Oh, yes.  Some entities do not have a certain update.  They would email me the link.  It would take some time to download.  I don’t know how long it took; I went to lunch with friends.

After lunch the computer recognized my new printer, so I printed a test document.  It printed on the wrong size paper, and jammed.  Cleared the jam, tried again, same result.  Called the help line.   This time I’m told their system is down and they can’t help me.  I told the young man we were going to talk about my printer and described the state of jamming it was in.  “Didn’t you get our email?” the young thing inquired.

With clenched teeth I scrolled to the email he referenced and said the paragraph concerned the arrival of my new computer in two boxes.  “No, at the very end!”  At the very end of the very long email, are the rest of the instructions they forgot to put on the instruction sheet they mailed:

The printer itself must be programmed.  In order to work for the people of my tiny township, this printer has to know it will be using the English language.  “Set ‘English’ and advance,” says the young man.  “Set the date and advance,” the young man tells me.  Now I am looking at a screen that says GMT.  I lost it.  Greenwich Mean Time!!?? I yelled.  “Keep using the up arrow key and advance to Eastern Standard Time.”  Let me tell you how many standard time zones are between GMT and EST (U.S.A. and Canada).  This printer knows the zones of Bosnia, Bangladesh, Croatia.  I’d  pressed my way through China, around to Australia when I asked if it wouldn’t have been smarter to use the down arrow back to the United States.  He admitted he didn’t think of that. 

I may be at the end of my sixth decade, but I know my sheet of instructions would have included checking for a certain update and telling the printer to speak English.  Or, does all the stupidity make complete sense when you’re a young technician on the AOS payroll.  And that includes a perfectly good printer sitting in a storage room.  Can’t even speak English, but able to do the people’s business for four years.  But, no longer supported after the end of the month.

This is the new printer, except the second box contained the optional fourteen inch paper drawer  See that thing sticking up at the top right front.  That's the screen that needs to know to use English in U.S.A. and Canada EST.


  1. I have always said that computer people have strangely demented minds that can't properly communicate with normal people. Most of what I have learned on computers I had to figure out for myself.

  2. Computers are my enemy, used to be copiers. As soon as it saw me coming it locked up. I loved your Toni perm blog post! My goodness you took me back. And Mardi Gras a show? uh-hummmmm :)

  3. Dang machines are smarter than we are...they know when to retire gracefully.

  4. Sigh. Our tax dollars at work. Can we blame Kasich? LOL

  5. Printer troubles. They are the bane of my existence. Interesting blog by the way.

  6. Aaaargh. Supreme frustration. I was impressed at the young thing crawling under your desk and connecting the little darling though. Assistance like that is rare.

  7. Frustrating to have upgrades without good reason - and such a waste.

  8. I always tackle every computer/electronics problem by starting with the words, "Think like a technician! Think Like a technician!" It doesn't work.