The Dig

Ahh, Mr. Photocopier. So we meet again. I have travelled thousands of miles across the seas just to let you spit your inky crap all over my hands.

It should have been a brief encounter, I only had ten pages to copy, but the display was shrieking CHANGE TONER. Beside the copier was a sign that said SEE SHAUNA IF TONER NEEDS CHANGING. As far as I knew I was the only Shauna.

I’d been shown how to change it four times already, but it’s like changing a tyre. You can watch it being done a million times but performing the deed yourself is a different story. Being a stubborn buffoon, I wasn’t about to ask for another demonstration.

No worries, I said, taking the new cartridge from the box. I studied the diagrams. All I had to do was stick the cartridge thingy on top of the long thingy, then pull this little plastic thingy that empties the ink thingy until it says STOP. Righto.

I gave the plastic thingy a good firm tug, just to show it who was boss. Sure enough the STOP message came up. But it didn’t stop! I’d pulled too hard! The flat plastic thingy that holds the ink inside ended up in my hands and the whole apparatus just sort of exploded. Ink powder vomited into every crevice of the copier, black dust pouffed up into my face.

I stumbled back into the office, “Help! I’ve cocked up big time!”

Two colleagues came to investigate. “Marsho, that is the fuck-up of the year.”

I wanted to cry. Today on the bus I’d decided I would write a Proper Entry, not just another episode of Shauna Screws Up. Where’s my profound travellers experiences? My personal growth? They fetched me an old t-shirt, a bucket and some paper towels. I spent the next hour on my hands and knees, scooping out ink by the handful.

The ink was a sneaky, omnipresent bastard. As soon as I wiped it from one place it would laugh and splatter elsewhere – on the screen, the buttons, under my nails, over my official Talented Athlete Program shirt.

But as I sat there trying to pull back my sleeves with my teeth, I tried looking at the situation in a different light. If I was back in Australia at my old job, would I have spent the morning on the floor with a bucket of water, colleagues cackling at me, ink up my nose? Oh no. I’d have commanded some admin slave boy to tackle the task!

So really, this was a new and exciting experience. I brushed and scrubbed, brushed and scrubbed; slowly and tenderly uncovering lost bits of machine from under the rubble like my own Pompeii.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for November 2020.

16 thoughts on “The Dig

  1. if you are given lemons, make lemonade… but what shall we do with a pound of freshly ground airborne toner?…
    Or… why was Shauny handed a bucket of perfectly fine pigment in a completely wrong way, in the wrong place at the wrong time?…
    Hmm… there are more than one positive answer to this… and I am sure that at least one will come to us…
    (If we just keep pulling and pushing tabs and things and ideas beyond “stop”, perhaps?)

  2. Oh Shauny…

    So sorry. I hate when I do things like that.

    On the upside, at least you’ll know how to change toner next time – or you may have persuaded the office staff to assign someone else to do it.

  3. Oh, Shauna – I am so sorry to laugh at your pain, but you have turned this into a fabulous “proper entry”.

    “The ink was a sneaky omnipresent bastard”, for example, is possibly my sentence of the week. And that was before I hit: “Oh no. I’d have commanded some admin slaveboy to tackle the task!”

    Lovely work at turning photocopier dust and grime into pure gold.

  4. oh alice, the thing is i still don’t know how to change it. i wasn’t paying attention to the fifth demonstration either.

    thanks doug, pure grime under the nails, too! i sneezed just now and the tissue looks sorta black…

  5. that happened to me too a few years ago. It was good friday and I popped into work to get some last minute things done before I headed off home to canberra to see the family for easter. I was the only one in the office at the time so I had no choice but to do it myself. Needless to say I didn’t get any work done that day as I spent it trying to get the black toner out of my clothes, hair, skin, out of the carpet, off the shelves, and off the photocopier. I remember pulling some of the photocopier apart and taking the bits downstairs and hosing them off! I understand your pain all too well! *hugs*

  6. S’okay, I’ve been in this job two months and have fudged my way through (out of) using the whiz bang franking machine in our mail room until finally admitting defeat when I inavdertantly locked the machine yesterday and had to ask for help. HELP! That and in my last job I killed the binding machine by stuffing in too many pieces of paper at once. I figure I just have bad office machinery feng shui.

  7. Just to ease your mind – you know that stuff’s really, really carcenogenic? Well, actually, it used to be, but I don’t know if it still is now. Sleep well, Miss Shauny!

  8. Since it’s my first comment here, I won’t mention anything like, “if you yank too hard, you’ll get it all over you.” No, I’m much more polite than that.

    (You’ve my random blog for Blogweek 2003. I hope it was as good for you, as it was for me. (c; )

  9. I’m doing Blogweek 2003 also. And yours is awesome. I’m sorry about your accident with the cartridge but it’s also good to read about other people who do the same things I do. I feel less. . . . alone. . . . now.

  10. Well at least you can say you never do anything half-assed! If you’re going to do something wrong, do it really wrong. 🙂

  11. That happened to me once. Omnipresent is an excellent descriptive choice. Loose Toner is harder to get rid of than nuclear waste!

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