Ode To The Copy Machine

copy_machine_sleeping1.jpgI do not consider myself technologically savvy by any means (read about my other issues with appliances here and here), but I can sweet talk a copy machine into doing just about anything.

Copy machines are tempermental. They are also often in short supply in language schools; one of the scariest things for a teacher can be a school with only one copy machine. This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

In Sarajevo, one of the copy machines spoke Finnish or Estonian or some north European language which bore little resemblance to any language any of the eight teachers of six nationalities could speak. It broke all the time. Paper got jammed in it, it claimed to be out of toner, or it just refused to do anything at all. More than once I burned my hand trying to get a piece of paper out of the side of it. The day I realized I could get this moody machine to work again though was the day I felt at home in the school.

The first solution was often just to open and shut one of the flimsy plastic doors. The machine “knew” the door was open, and would sometimes just forget about the problem and start working again. If this didn’t work, it was possible to pull out and push back in the (same) toner cartridge.

If neither of these tactics worked, it was time for real action. This involved sliding the machine out so the side was accessible, opening a different plastic door, and peering into the monstrosity that makes up the inside of a copy machine with the objective of finding the paper that it claimed was stuck inside. Sometimes this was easy and the paper could just be pulled out slowly and evenly; too quickly or with uneven force, and it could tear, creating an even bigger problem. And with an eye on the metal rollers because they got hot.

If none of these things worked (or, if I deemed it too difficult or time consuming to slide the machine and kneel down to poke around inside), the last resort was turning it off, waiting a few moments, and turning it back on. I would hope that in this time, it would forget about the problem and just start up normally.

I may not know how to set the time on my laptop or use my heater or washing machine properly, but if you have a piece of paper jammed almost anywhere (well, within reason) I feel confident that my TEFL experience can help you get it out.