After many years of faithful service, my old printer developed a terminal case of the Fading Stutters* and expired just when most of Jane’s final school assignments were due, because that’s how we, and by extension our possessions or indeed any item or creature we look at casually in passing, roll.
On Friday, I went shopping for a replacement. I’d done some research and had decided it was time to splurge on an all-in-one. Faxing isn’t something I’m likely to do at home—seeing as we don’t have a land line, anyway—but scanning and copying have somehow become integral to my life as a parent and blogslave.
I like Epson,** and there were several models of all-in-ones available at the local Electronics Store Which Shall Not Be Named.*** I walked around comparing ink and features and dimensions and general sexiness—it would, after all, be living in my bedroom office. After clocking in a mile between aisles, I finally determined that the only real differences between the current top of the line home model and the previously current top of the line was a spiffy keypad for the fax function I’d never use, extra-large ink cartridges that hold a third more ink while being twice as expensive, a smaller paper tray for reasons I didn’t understand,^ and two hundred dollars.
I chose accordingly.
Turns out that most all-in-one printers are wireless now, which seemed like a good deal at the time, since we were forever plugging and unplugging various devices into Old Printer, which may or may not have factored into its demise, but was darned annoying at best. It would be convenient to be able to print from wherever in the house we happened to be.
So I brought home a big box o’ technology, moved Old Printer from the top of my stubby, two-drawer filing cabinet to the floor, unpacked New Printer, removed fourteen thousand pieces of blue tape, packing strips, and static film pieces, plugged it in, and launched the installation Wizard.
The Wizard suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable, but not to sweat it—I could just enter everything on the printer’s touchscreen. As long as I had my WiFi password.
I thought about this, then sent a text to Watson: “What’s the WiFi password again?”
She replied. “S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4 which is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized.^^ Unless it’s been changed.”
The Wizard prompted me to enter the login—which is slightly shorter—and password. It also reminded me that everything was case-sensitive.
I should mention here that the touchscreen didn’t offer me a keyboard. It offered me a flat version of a spiffy numerical fax keypad. So, as I tapped a specific button, the associated letters appeared on the screen first as capitals, then lowercase, and then the actual number would appear.
This means to enter a capital S, I need to hit the 7 button four times (PQRS). To enter a lowercase s, I have to hit the 7 button eight times (PQRSpqrs). And to enter an actual number 7, I would have to hit that blessed button nine times (PQRSpqrs7).
I should also mention that the keypad issues a happy BLEEP with every single tap.
There was a LOT of happy bleepin’ bleeping going on by the time I finished.
But I did, eventually, finish and do hit Done.
It processed, then beeped a little less happily, flashed me a message, and issued a report sheet stated the same thing.
I tried again, and was beeped, flashed, and handed another report.
Once more, with triple checks of each precious pixel representation of a letter or digit and gritted teeth.
I texted my husband. “Did you change the WiFi password?”
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “It should still be S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4. That’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized, if it helps.”
I tried again, with quadruple checks and crossed fingers and the burning of sage.
It was some comfort that the speed of the printing was as impressive as advertised, though I was sure it would be even MORE impressive if it would graciously allow me to print something other than an error report.
The Wizard, at this point, had become bored with my incompetence and was taking a nap. I woke it up and made it take me through the whole thing again.
The Wizard patiently suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable.
I texted my husband. “Do we have a USB printer cable?”
“No idea,” he replied.
So I went to the location of my secret cable stash—the garage—and began unsnarling them. I had cables for cameras and eReaders and MP3 players and nuclear countdowns and found evidence suggested they were starting to sprout like spider plants . . . but nothing looked like it might connect my printer to my computer through the USB port on the front of New Printer.
On the way back to see the Wizard, I stubbed my toe on Old Printer, which was crouched in front of my dresser, looking forlorn, trailing cables.
I studied the image the Wizard was helpfully showing me of a USB printer cable and where it would be inserted. I looked at the port on the back of New Printer. I yanked out the silver cable from Old Printer and looked at the end.
“OH, DEITY BLEEPING BLEEP IT.”
Five minutes later, we were in business.
No, I lie.
Two hours and five minutes later, we were in business.
And then our Internet connection went down.
*Which I believe might also be a disease that sheep or goats or horses might have, but since neither are known for their print quality even when they’re healthy, I’m not going to bother looking it up.
**Not only for dot matrix nostalgia—Epson produces workhorses that do what they’re supposed to do until they drop, stuttering, in exhaustion. Other brands are susceptible to Grawlix Tourette’s, which is amusing, but wastes paper.
***Because The Convenience Of Its Brick And Mortar Location Only Marginally Trumps The Abysmal Lack Of Customer Service Let Alone Eye Contact From Its Staff, That’s Why.
^Maybe the spiffy keypad takes up too much room?
^^No, not really. But pretty close.