"If I need two-sided copies, do I have to pay nine cents for each side, or is there some kind of discount." Says me, hoping you get some kind of credit for not wasting paper...
"Nope. Nine cents per copy, per side. Forty nine cents per copy if you use the color copier over there."
Ouch. Oh, well. I head over to the black and white copier (I knew I couldn't afford color). I take out my grayscale flyer that I printed out on my inkjet at home. I do a test copy. UGH. It looks like crap. I thought copiers were supposed to have improved in the last thirty years????
Back to the lady-who-should-not-be-bothered.
"Excuse me. I'm trying to copy my flyer here, but the quality is very poor. Can you help me? The last time I was here, the guy [at the copier department] set me up at the color copier with it copying in black and white." I try to move things forward, without seeming like I'm doing her job.
She seems a little annoyed now. "Those copiers should work fine for black and white. You might have to adjust the contrast."
"Can you help me?" I try to look pathetic.
I cave, and decide to go with the fuzzy version. I get my preferred copy paper -- shiny happy orange -- and put it in the copier. I cautiously select to print 300. They start. I check the first 30. They have streaks through the entire page. I cancel the print.
"So sorry, but I need your help again. Now there are streaks through the copy." Considering I think she has already spoken to the copier in snake language, I'm hoping she will not pull out a wand and want to dual. But now I'm getting a little annoyed myself. Snake lady looks at me in disbelief. Like I changed something -- on purpose -- to ruin my copies. She removes my shiny happy orange paper, and prints out another test page on white paper. Streaks. She moves over to the next black and white copier. She prints out 3 or 4 test copies.
Guess what they look like? Hint: it rhymes with map, and smells bad.
At this point, snake lady studies my flyer original. She mumbles something about how it is really blue, not black and white, and that is confusing the copiers. I explain how I printed it out in black and white on my home inkjet, but she just sneers. I didn't know copiers could be confused.
She now announces she has a solution! She will just put me on the color copier, and set it to black and white.
What a novel idea! Don't you love it when people announce they have a great idea... and give you back the one you gave the less than an hour ago?
First test copy -- perfect. I get my shiny happy orange paper back, and I'm rolling. Verrrrrrry sloowwwwwwly. The color copier grinds through my 500 copies at a snails pace, but I finally get to the end of the first side. Then, I take my stack and put them back in the paper tray. And I'm rolling again! One hundred flyers are done! Ahhh.... finally making progress!
But, wait. The copier stops. Is it out of shiny happy orange paper? No. It says...
"Error. Replace consumables."
Great. Now I have to call back the Parselmouth.
After giving me the "What now?" look, she comes and reads the screen, then reads a few more screens.She opens up the belly of the beast. Is it consuming an ink cartridge? Nope. She announces, "I have to replace a drum." Copiers have drums? Replaceable ones? I guess so.
First, she fumbles with the "drum" trying to pull it out, then she realizes she has not flipped some unlocking mechanism first. She finally gets the drum out. Then she looks for a replacement. Then she looks some more. Then she wanders around aimlessly for a while. Then she looks some more.
Really? Making copies should not be this difficult.
She announces she'll have to go in back for the part. I already know the part is not back there.
I wait ... and wait... and wait. I think about being rambunctious and pulling out the rest of the "drums," but I leave the copier alone. Impatiently waiting.
Finally, her coworker tells me that she's coming back (they've got those earpieces in), and will finish the job on the full service copiers.
She just figured that out? Blah. I'm so over this!
I hand her my flyers and explain that they just need the second side copied. She looks at me with disdain, "Oh, well you should have just set up the printer for two-sided then."
Yep. That would have solved all my problems.
I now watch as she takes my flyers back and forth between 4 different copiers. She announces that paper should not go through copiers twice. She shows me how the copiers have chewed up the paper that has been run through twice. I say, in as meek a voice as possible, that I had already ran 100 flyers through the color copier on the second side and they came through fine.
I think I'm starting to hear the Parseltongue more clearly now. The copiers are talking directly to her. They don't like me! I want to run, but she has my flyers!
"I'll have to start over your job from scratch. I'll do it on my machines. It will go fast." She announces with some pride in her voice.
I really don't have a choice, do I?
Start over. I've been imprisoned here with the enchanted copiers and the snake lady for one and a half hours. And now she is starting my job over.
Plus -- all my shiny happy orange paper is gone. Used up. Eaten by the snake charmed copiers. I'll have to make due with day-glo green.
I wait. She finishes my job. She gives me a fancy box that says "Impress" on the top. I'm not sure how to take that. She doesn't give me a receipt.
"Do I need a receipt?" I ask, trying not to look her in the eyes.
"Just tell the cashier you have 500. And you can keep those 100 orange ones. I don't care." She shushes me away. I just lost two hours to this god-forsaken place -- those extra free copies sure made up for that!
Then a chilling thought passes over me: maybe she was really protecting me from the copiers -- not controlling them?
I'll never know.