In Trouble With The Prints-iple

, | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | Learning | July 25, 2017

I am in the library, trying to print an essay for my history class. I go to retrieve it from the printer, only to see that it didn’t work. I spend several minutes trying to find the problem but everything seems to be working perfectly. I press print again but it still won’t print. I am getting increasingly frustrated and resort to hitting the print button over and over again. I finally give up and call a staff member to help. She does everything I just did (including continually pressing the print button) and can’t seem to figure out the problem either.

I an about to leave the library when I hear an announcement calling me to the main office. I go to the office and see a chemistry teacher with a large stack of papers, several feet high. I had been sending my essay to the printer in the chemistry lab the whole time and it was interrupting her class. I got a warning not to do it again. That was the last time I ever tried to print something at school.

1 Thumbs
  • clemdane

    Sigh, the usual stupidity and hypocrisy of school officials…

    • Powers

      Who was being hypocritical?

      • clemdane

        The school officials who disciplined the OP for something that had not been set up correctly by the school, i.e., their responsibility.

        • kaninefat

          You should always check which printer you have selected before you hit the print button. And hitting the same button over and over expecting to get a different result is just plain stupid.

          • clemdane

            Well, technically neither of us know whether the computer said the correct printer or not. But the librarian made the same mistake and she’s supposed to be in charge of the library and it’s computer.

          • clemdane

            How do we know it said “Chemistry printer” on it? It might have just said a number or “printer” or who knows what that didn’t give any indication it wasn’t the one in the library.

          • Laren Dowling

            Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

        • Leah

          Actually, chances are it had been set up correctly and OP selected the wrong printer from the menu of networked printers. Or the previous user had selected that printer and OP never thought to check they were sending their print job to the correct printer.

          • sackes

            IT fail, not the user’s fault.

            Public computers should only have one single printer installed. So the chemistry teacher should have contacted (and yelled, presumably) at IT fรถr the disruption, not the user.

            And why the warning? It wasn’t OP’s fault, maybe only thing that he and staff kept sending to the printer….

          • TheWonderRabbit

            You keep mentioning ‘one printer for public PCs’ but I’m not sure I agree at all.

            Firstly, multiple printers prevents bottlenecks.
            Secondly, you can have multiple types of printers – black and white, colour, photoprint, 3D, labels, A4, A3… So there may be a need for many printers to be connected depending on the services offered.

            Thirdly, redundancy. What if that one printer breaks?

        • Powers

          Well it wasn’t much in the way of discipline, and there’s no telling how the printer got set wrong.

        • heymoe2001

          A warning from a chemistry teacher is hardly discipline from a school official.
          It is the responsibility of the person hitting print to know to where they are sending a document to be printed. No one else is there at the moment.

        • divgradcurl

          A chemistry teacher is not a “school official”; she’s a chemistry teacher. And chewing out an inconsiderate student who doesn’t stop to think that these dozens of print jobs they’re sending must be going somewhere — if not right now, then in one huge mess after the network is fixed — isn’t “discipline”. It’s simply what happens when you stupidly piss people off.

          (And yes, the librarian was just as bad, and would also have probably earned some wrath if the teacher had known the whole story. So what? You don’t measure your behavior against the dumbest person around.)

    • heymoe2001

      Yeah, a school expecting a student have the ability to read.
      How hypocritical of them…..

  • Leah

    “I spend several minutes trying to find the problem”

    But you never checked which printer you were sending your print job to?? When I worked at a university with several networked printers, this was always the FIRST thing I checked when a document hadn’t printed.

    • kittykat0714

      “I go to retrieve it from the printer, only to see that it didnโ€™t work.” – So yes they did.

      • Notchmath

        I think Leah is referring to checking the computer to see if you are sending it to the printer you want to be sending it to

      • I think Leah meant on the screen. You can select which printer you’re printing to. Like my law firm has 5 different printers (or the ‘global’ one) and if you wanted to use a specific one (like the one next to me that also hole punches) then you’d send it to the specific printer.

    • sackes

      Public computers should NEVER have the option to select any printer that isn’t near the station.

      • Ainoko_Ironrose

        Tell that to schools, colleges and universities so that they can make it harder for students to send classwork to the correct printer.

        • sackes

          Why should they make it harder for students to send a print job to the correct printer?

          • Ainoko_Ironrose

            Didn’t you know, It doesn’t like people using their systems, they tend to make it difficult for the users all the time

          • TheWonderRabbit

            So Pennywise put a virus in my PC?

    • Ainoko_Ironrose

      Or they were clicking on the correct printer but the printers were labeled wrong.

      That happened at the school I graduated from back in ’12. The school had 20 classrooms, 3 labs, library and career services with a grand total of 34 printers. The lead IT guy installed three new printers in the megalab and labeled them correctly but routing them to the library, career services and classroom 4, So it is possible that the OP was clicking on the correct printer icon for the library and had no idea that the printer in the chemistry lab was linked to the library’s printer icon.

  • Jean Marie

    A stack of papers several feet high? So they kept restocking the paper every time it ran out??

    • heymoe2001


      • Fallen

        Most likely they have an large printer which can hold large amounts of paper. We had those at college it had like 3/4 drawers to hold paper which can hold a full stack of paper.

        • heymoe2001

          More likely it is a gross exaggeration. Several inches might be believable.
          It takes 500 sheets of paper to make up 2″. How many times would someone have to hit print to cause several feet of paper to feed through? How long would that even take to print?

          • Fallen

            Yeah that’s true. For something as large as op specified that would take quite a few mins.

            Also now I’m wondering if the chemistry teacher was that bothered by the printer why didn’t they just turn it off.

          • Professor of Miscellaneous

            Even at 1 page a second, a foot of stack (using the 500-pages-to-2″ guideline) would tak fifty minutes. So hours for “several feet”.

          • heymoe2001

            Your name suits you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Paul Nieuwkamp

    Or, you could, you know, not repeat the same thing over and over again and expect different results?

    Trying it a second time, I probably wouldn’t have done it but don’t really blame you. A few dozen times? Yeah, totally your own fault. Did you have to pay for all the paper and ink you wasted?

    This is (one of the) reasons we implemented “Follow You” printing: People to stupid to realize that if it didn’t do what they wanted the first time, it probably won’t do it the next 1000 times either. Now, you have to walk to a printer and swipe your card before it starts printing.

    • I would have thought that was implemented at every place with public printers.

      • Paul Nieuwkamp

        Probably (though maybe not an access card but a pin terminal or coin slot), but I don’t think this was a public library, it’s the school library. You (most likely) have to log in to the computers with a personal account, so there is (as demonstrated) some accountability for your actions here.

        • At my job you have to input your personal access code to print anything and my university was pretty much the same. You put in your number, select the job you want printed and you’re good.

          • Paul Nieuwkamp

            At mine as well. That does not make them public ๐Ÿ™‚ Unless off course we both have a different definition of public in mind; I’m thinking of “publicly accessible”: anybody can walk in from the street and physically access (though not necessarily use) the printers.

          • Maybe our schools ran differently because my school did allow non-students to use the facilities as long as they had an ID for them to put down and signed a ‘contract’ about how to use the computers and the rules.

    • tulip_poplar

      We had that at work. It was nice actually because you could decide which printer to use when you actually arrived at the room with the printers (so if one if already in use you could pick a different one). That way your print job didn’t get stuck behind someone who was printing out a hundred pages or something. You also didn’t have to map a bunch of printers to your computer – you just mapped one that worked for the whole building.

      • Paul Nieuwkamp

        Yes, those were the other reasons ๐Ÿ™‚ Though some people did scream at us because now their print is not ready and waiting for them when they arrive at the printer, they have to wait ~20 seconds after swiping their card for it to be done printing… More if you have more than one job queued because it only prints the first one automatically; if we printed all of them then you end up with the story above again ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Fallen

      Yeah after not printing the first time I would have looked at where I was sending it. If the school/college haven’t started a payment scheme for printing they may consider it in the future. Especially if people like op are wasting that much ink and paper even by accident.

  • Kitty

    Sounds less like your problem and more on why the chem-lab’s (personal?) printer is connected as one to the college’s library.

  • MouseyBrown

    It’s entirely possible that the printers aren’t named as they should be. Instead of being called “Library”, “Chemistry”, etc., on the network, they could very easily just be something like “Canon ModelXXXX”, “Printer 817501”, or stuff like that.

    We actually have that problem at work. The printer marked “Front Desk” doesn’t…actually exist. The front desk printer is “Main Laser”. Receiving’s printer is labled on the network as Printer Data, others are just named Printer_1 and Printer_2. The only one that’s actually labeled correctly is Marketing.

    And with ours…it actually does take quite a long time sometimes for a single job to go to the printer. It took over an hour for something to print that I’d sent to the receiving printer. I’d already printed it off and finished it from another printer by the time the receiving printer finally decided to spit it out. I hate that printer.

    • Yea but at that point you should know which one is which? Or at the very least the librarian should. Like at my job I know D95 is the one next to me, WC7855 is the front printer etc etc.

      Still, this would be solved with a “follow you” printing policy where you have to physically go to a printer and ‘release’ the print job instead of it printing automatically.

      • MouseyBrown

        True. It just seems odd, I suppose.

  • Lord Circe

    Huh. The very first “diagnostic” I would have run would be to double-check exactly what printer I’m sending my paper to. There should be a label with the printer’s name on the printer itself. I’m surprised the staff member didn’t check that, maybe she assumed you were savvy enough to have checked it first.

    • Ainoko_Ironrose

      That only works if the printers are labeled correctly

      • Lord Circe

        If there isn’t a label on the printer, the librarians should still have a reference for the printer names. Or you can check the other computers in the area, as they should default to the local printer, and so the most common name should be the proper one. Worst come to worst, you can send a single test page to each printer that is currently set-up on your computer, and see which prints at the machine you want. There are plenty of better solutions than “press print over and over and hope that something magically changes”.

  • PsychoFox

    I’d like to know the printer model that can hold several feet worth of paper all at once.

    • Lil Tiger

      The smallest of our printers, that is directly behind me as I am typing, can hold 16 inches of paper in its 4 drawers (8 reams of 500 sheets). It can also prints very quickly, so a full printer will run out of paper in about 20-30 minutes. The largest of our printers can hold 3 times that amount. They’re both Canons.

  • Matt Westwood

    OP fail. I have never met somebody quite as utterly brainlessly stupid as OP.

  • EJ Nauls-Poland

    That’s entirely on you OP. You’re always supposed to make sure you’re sending the document to the right printer before you hit print.

    • Ainoko_Ironrose

      If the printers are labeled correctly then it should be on the OP, but if the printers are labeled wrong, the blame should fall on IT

    • SicklyGiggler

      I have yet to see a printer that has a name that actually tells you where the printer is… All the printers I’ve interacted with are like Printer_A_123560280

      • EJ Nauls-Poland

        When I was in high school, all the printers in the school were listed with what room they were in. Once I got to college, all of the printers in the print lab and the library are labeled differently as well. For this story to happen; either OP wasn’t paying attention, or IT screwed up the listing.

        • SicklyGiggler

          When I was in school that wasn’t the case… They were either the brand and a random number string or the name I mentioned before. And the printers did not have labels on them either.

      • Laren Dowling

        Ditto. I have yet to attend a school with sensibly named printers. And, being an army brat, I’ve been to my fair share of schools.
        My old office job didn’t have their printers named sensibly, either.

    • Celoptra

      and what if someone rerabeled the chem’s one as the libarary one?

  • Stephen

    Looks like this story has been submitted twice! So here’s the comment I made there put on here, in case the duplicate story gets removed…

    Reminds me of the Dilbert comic strip (found it on the website; it’s dated June 15th 2008).


    Pointy Haired Boss: Ted, I have a funny story for you
    Ted: Why am I filled with a sense of foreboding?
    PHB: So I was trying to print a long document, hee hee! But when I went to the printer, the document wasn’t there. For the next three days I kept trying and trying, but the document never showed up at the printer. It turns out I was checking the wrong printer. The right printer used $80,000 worth of paper that week!
    Ted: And how does this affect me?
    PHB: You and paper just became and either/or situation.

  • PsychoFox

    Shouldn’t the subject say “Prints-ipal”?

  • Phil Adler


    OP, how many times did you print this, exactly? Did you fail to get the hint after the first few tries?

  • TheBigBadWolf

    So I commented on the repost of this….Has anyone ever burped into a straw in a cup when the cup is full?

  • Laren Dowling

    The fact that you sent it to the wrong printer isn’t the problem. That fact that you sent it over and over and over is the problem. When a paper doesn’t print, the first thing you should check is which printer is selected. Only when you’re certain that’s correct should you bother running diagnostics.