Did you know that “Help. My printer is choking on paper again”, isn’t an option in the troubleshoot window that pops up on the display screen while your printer is choking and dying inches away from said screen? Yeah, I didn’t either. After a decade of smacking it like a mule to make it work, the sloth-paced printing device spluttered mid job after performing what sounded like its own 21-gun salute. Giving me the opportunity to upgrade to a more refined and evolved specimen. Over the years smart phones have advanced in to powerful and sophisticated gadgets equipped with personal assistants thereby replacing calendars, watches and our ability to memorise phone numbers. In short, they’ve actually become smart. The 2D printers of today’s day and age on the other hand, have simply added a suffix to the same term. The successor, an AIO (all-in-one) laser printer, was sleek, beautiful, top of the line with unparalleled print and speed guaranteed by its creators in California. I affectionately unboxed it, taking in the sweet aroma of plastic and what were possibly toxic epoxy coating fumes, and relished the sound of bubble wrap popping as I unwrapped its power cables and set it up in my home office. If it had a voice, I imagined it would sound like Sean Connery. “Move over Alexa, I was in love.” In my head, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship based on mutual respect and trust—Or maybe if I’m completely honest, I sort of envisioned it be a slave to my whims and spit out colorful confetti at the click of a button. All the same, I was in love with the idea of my very own genie in its plastic casing ready to print 2D at my command. To fill the void in my paperless world with colour and organise it with lists and free printable. Together we would be unstoppable—conquering the list of Pinterest-DIY projects I’d been meaning to get round in forever. And of course now and then –scan, copy and print a few work documents. I plugged it in, installed the cartridges, drivers and applications; connected it to my phone and laptop. In short, I followed the instructions to the dot. All in the hopes of a pleasant printing experience that didn’t lead to a meltdown. There was only one tiny glitch that the manufactures had failed to mention – not even in the fine print. Like cockroaches these sturdy machines with their expensive cartridges know how to outlive (and manipulate) humans — and possibly a nuclear war I know because I checked. My new machine came with an attitude problem and a sardonic contempt for authority. And within the first hour of its arrival, it blinked to life and unmistakably defined its place in the social hierarchy. Despite repetitive instructions, it refused to print the test page. I double checked the wires, tampered with the settings, and finally gave up and called in tech support. Fortunately tech support was just lounging in the other room and walked in to survey the source of the chaos. He then simply clicked on the print command. And lo and behold, it began to print. And much to my annoyance coupled with the just the tiniest ounce of relief, quickly spat out a perfectly neat test page. Tech support and his satisfied ego happily returned to whatever task they had at hand only to rush back in a few minutes later. “Spit it out this instant”, I commanded as I tugged at the end of the corner that had made it through. Husband, who had been under the impression that our toddler had ingested some 3D object not meant for human consumption, came in find an equally perplexed toddler and a defiant printer with a stubborn paper jam. “Please.” I pleaded. And it let go. Xerox, which pioneered photocopiers in the 1960s, was afraid that computers would make papers obsolete. But printers throughout history have defied their owners and their predictions. Their drivers may be frustrating and a pain to install but their instinct to survive is their most powerful drive. Like cockroaches these sturdy machines with their expensive cartridges know how to outlive (and manipulate) humans and possibly a nuclear war. My contempt for its kind grew in the days that followed. Initially it would refuse to print blaming it on alignment, low ink or a paper jam. Then it waited for the precise moment my face was examining the output tray for this supposed jam to spin in to action and spew out sheets of paper. On better days, it would print half a document, only to give us a scare by resuming printing of the second half at 2 am in the morning. I could swear I heard it snicker that night as we ventured in our pajamas pale faced, comically armed with a pan and a bat. It could sense fear and urgency. And this was inversely proportional to the time it would take to process the task. Eventually it resorted to giving me the silent treatment. (Thanks karma. But for the record, it was justified and my significant other deserved it most of the time.) After hours of ‘troubleshooting’ I gave in, threw it back in its box, stamped a bow on it, and gifted it to the husband for his office. I later found out it was efficiently and happily printing, copying and scanning away in its new abode. I’ve seen the pictures and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the quality made me envious. While I can’t really say I’m happy for it, I have come to terms with it. It’s a process and I think I’m getting there. Since we’re on topic, I’m an Eco-activist now and a strong advocate for a paperless world starting with the banning of ALLAOI Laser Printers. I’d love it if you could sign my petition here. All for a greener future. Nothing personal. Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.