That Poor Printer Will Probably Retire Early

, , , , | Learning | June 26, 2020

When I was in high school, we had a very ditzy substitute teacher. She was nice and usually fun, but she was the type of person who had no reasoning skills beyond “if I push this button, that happens.” If pushing the button did not lead to the expected result, her only solution was to push the button again.

The school had a standard wireless printing system with two industrial printer/copiers in different parts of the building. Most teachers also had regular desktop printers in their classroom for their personal use. However, all school computers defaulted to the nearer industrial printer/copier every time something was printed.

I had an advanced class that only got twenty or twenty-five students per year. One day, our regular teacher for this class was absent and we had the ditzy sub. Our regular teacher left instructions for the sub to print out a worksheet for my class during his — which would also be the sub’s — free period.

The worksheet was four pages. My class needed twenty-five copies. At worst, if someone forgot to print on both sides of each sheet, that would be one hundred sheets of paper, right?

Well… the ditzy sub hit “print,” waited about thirty seconds, didn’t see any paper coming out of the teacher’s desktop printer, and hit “print” again… something like thirty-five times over the course of their fifty-minute free period.

Fortunately, the school librarian caught on when she realized that she was filling the paper trays in the library printer/copier way more often than she had ever done before and checked the printer’s job history. Unfortunately, twenty-eight of the print jobs had already been completed before the librarian could cancel the rest of them.

Twelve years later, I am now working full-time at the same school. The ditzy sub retired long ago, but the regular teacher is still there. He still has copies of that worksheet from that day, and he uses them every year when he gets to that lesson. That worksheet has become his official retirement marker; when he finally runs out of copies, he’ll retire.

This story has been included in our June 2020 roundup as one of that month’s most memorable stories!

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