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Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Quest for Toner

I had a good laugh yesterday over my engineers. Our secretary left NWA for a higher paying job with a more stable company, and since then, we've been on our own. This resulted in Friday's Quest for Toner.

In December, I saw one of the engineers putting our last toner cartridge into the printer as I went down the hall. I said, "Don't forget to tell the person who's doing our supply ordering that we need another toner." He made appropriate noises that he'd do so, and I continued on my way.

Let me preface the next part of the story by saying that this printer starts flashing messages when the toner begins to run low. At 900, 600, 300, 100 pages remaining, etc. Let me also preface this by saying I rarely use the printer and haven't since December, so I didn't know how dangerously low we were.

Okay, fast forward to Thursday afternoon. I get a phone call from our director's secretary. She'd been asked to order toner, and because I sat on the floor, she was going to have it sent to me. Could I please let her know when it arrived? You bet. But no toner showed up on Thursday.

Friday morning, my maintenance specialist came over. "Do you have the toner?" Um, no, I don't. Which he should be able to see since I don't have anything under my desk except power cords. I promised to bring the toner over the instant it arrived and let him know.

Later that morning, the secretary calls and asks if I have the toner yet.

Still no toner at lunch. Just before 2pm, one of my systems engineers comes over. "Do you have the toner? The secretary said she was having it sent to you." No, no toner. And I told him the same thing I told the maint spec; as soon as I get it, I'll bring it over. The engineer informs me that the director's secretary is tracking the package down.

Not three minutes later, my maint spec shows up again. "Do you have the toner?" The answer is still no. "I better call the secretary and have her find out what happened to it." I told him an engineer already had her tracing it.

Fifteen minutes later, an avionics engineers shows up at my cube. This would be the same engineer who put the last cartridge of toner in the printer and was supposed to let someone know to order a new one. "Do you have the toner?"

By this point, I was ready to make a sign that said, "No, I don't have any toner!" Of course, I would have needed to hand letter it.

Why? Because our printer wasn't working. It was completely out of toner. Eight adults use that printer regularly--EIGHT--and not one of them could order toner. It warned them when the cartridge had less than 900 pages. It warned them when they dropped below 600 pages, and 300 pages and 100 pages, but none of them could pick up the phone or send an email asking the director's secretary to order a new cartridge of toner. Not until the printer was completely out. Then, of course, they all have things they need to print and can't do it.

I found this hysterically funny. Of course, I know all the personalities involved too. :-) I was laughing when I left work yesterday. And as of 2:30 yesterday afternoon, there was still NO TONER.

Last night, I had a cool dream. (I promise to keep this short.) I was in the basement of my new house and there was an opening to crawl through to reach storage space, but it was cover with wood. Someone told me I had to go in there, but I couldn't because the opening to crawl through was small, and made me claustrophobic. Finally, I pulled the wood away, and discovered it wasn't as small as it looked so I crawled through and found a windowless room full of junk. And it wasn't mine. I knew I didn't want to keep other people's crap and that I wanted to get rid of all of it.

Normally, I'm horrible at dream interpretation because it's all so symbolic, but this one made total sense. I'm storing other people's junk inside myself, (labels people have given me, their expectations of what I can and can't accomplish, the limitations they burdened me with. All stuff that I took on and never should have). It was time to throw this crap away. So I did. I cleared out that whole room. It feels damn good!

Today, I want to go to my local writing chapter meeting. Every year I vow to make it to more meetings, and I did do much better in 2005. The only problem is that when I'm pressing on a deadline, or feel like I need to press, I need Saturday to write. Then there are the days when I just want to veg out, or the mornings I dawdle so long, I can't make the meeting.

I won't be able to stay for the program, though. Right after the meeting, I need to head for the countertop store and pick out the laminate for the master bathroom. The place closes at 2pm, but I should be able to pick out something before then. Plus this is the store that had the cool window treatments. I didn't write down the name/style of the ones I liked, so I'll do it this time and then look for the best price on them.

This should totally shoot the day, but I've been struggling with the writing anyway. I'm having a hard time getting my head back in this story and the characters. This isn't unexpected--it happens every time I switch between stories--but it's frustrating anyway.