Last week my husband bought me a new Dell printer, making me ridiculously happy. I had no idea an inanimate object could bring me such joy. I find myself smiling at it, even singing to it, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, “So Happy Together”, “You Light up My Life.” The Era of Good Feelings has once again come to my home-den-office.
My devotion to my new Dell is best understood by my dysfunctional, at times abusive, relationship with my ex, an HP. For over two years, since I retired and became wholly dependent on our home office equipment, I was victim to the dark moods and spiteful whims of this evil HP. It wasn’t that it didn’t print – it just didn’t print consistently. It was always slow as molasses. But at times, it would grow inexplicably temperamental and stop functioning, usually when I was rushed or needed to print something important. Other times, it would print, but the colors would be whacky. Or, it would suddenly stop printing PDFs, or pages from the Web, or any number of other programs it would single out for punishment. Then the next day, all would be operational. It felt like it was playing me for laughs.
My husband has a higher threshold for this type of inconvenience than I do, mainly because he is responsible for fixing things and he didn’t know how to fix this thing. Since the HP did work sometimes, it never qualified as “broken” so he was not in favor of buying a new printer. And, most maddeningly, that little stinker would print just fine for his computer (which sat next to and connected to the HP). So, we resorted to increasingly irritating work-arounds, like me emailing documents to my husband to print from my his computer, turning the printer off and counting for 60 seconds and turning it back on, and (my favorite), smacking it on the side. After days of stomping back and forth between the den and the printer, turning it on and off, on and off, on and off, cussing and yelling at the HP, my husband would calmly say things like, “Hmmm, maybe I need to take it apart and fix it.” And I ‘d say, “Or maybe I need to take it apart and kill it.”.
One day I came home and my husband was doing printer brain surgery. He had hundreds of little parts spread all over the kitchen island. He had my late father’s loops (the magnifying lenses my dad used in his dentistry practice) on his head and an extra bright office light trained on the patient. The surgery was temporarily successful, and the printer worked like a champ for a few months.
UNTIL, last spring, as I was preparing for my son’s USNA graduation week and planned to produce packets (including schedules, maps, and nametags) for all our guests. After spending countless hours designing, drafting and collecting materials on my computer, I began printing. The HP-from-Hell would print five of something, and then stop. Or one of something else, then stop. Then no more that day. It just refused, flagrant acts of insubordination. The next day, it would print three more of something and nothing of the other. There was one PDF that it never printed correctly. And all this after trying all the work-arounds – the turning on and off and emailing and smacking. I was mostly alone in the house those days and the swear words were gushing from my lips like a Roman fountain. I finally downloaded everything I couldn’t get that damn printer to print on a flash drive, drove down to Kinko’s, and had everything printed in less than 30 minutes.
In the months following the graduation, I felt myself pulling away from the HP. I was no longer willing to work on our relationship. If I encountered any resistance at all from that little nutcase, I took my flash drive and turned to Kinko’s. By the end of summer, HP and I were at an impasse. It basically wasn’t printing anything for me; meanwhile, my relationship with Kinko’s blossomed (and feeling the expense was worth every cent to my sanity).
And then a wondrous thing happened. Not having me to kick around anymore, HP started messing with my husband. I began hearing a few swear words coming out of his mouth, and noticed that he was increasingly having problems printing. Now things were getting interesting!
In September, we decided to get a new laptop for me, so we’d each have a laptop when we’re traveling, and my husband said something incredible. At least, I thought he said, “Maybe we’ll get you a small printer to go in your office.” I tried not to get too excited, as these initiatives take time to come to fruition in our house.
Then that HP stupidly kept messing with my husband, and he began researching in earnest what might be wrong. What he discovered online was that an “update” pushed out by HP in the last few years basically destroyed some key part of the printer. That did it! Now he was angry! HP had just messed with the wrong guy. (A little slow, but glad he was now feeling my outrage.) He found a part on eBay that some claimed could be a DIY fix to the problem, which he ordered and it came last week, and then my heart sank. Now we might be in for another protracted period of “fixes” to that blasted HP.
But, last Friday I came home to a huge empty cardboard shipping box sitting on our living room floor. I went into my den/office and there it was…my new Dell. It was love at first sight. The reign of HP oppression has ended.
Since then, I’ve been printing to my heart’s content. Color! Two-sided! PDFs! Webpages! That document from graduation that HP never printed! Everything is done quickly, cheerfully and perfectly, with no attitude. I may even be able to print my Christmas letter myself this year. It all just makes me want to sing. I love my new printer.