Our – recently retired – printer was at least 15 years old. The off/on button quit working months ago. In order to print, we had to disconnect the power cord, count to 20, and plug it back in. Then, listen for the printer to run its diagnostics and send the print command just before it finished – to print one file at a time.
The fact that I put up with this for months is an indication of my dread of buying a new printer and figuring out how to make it connect to our house Wi-Fi. Nothing is straightforward about this exercise. If there is a way to screw up simple instructions, I will find it. And do it.
But yesterday, with our annual appointment with our tax guy looming and the need to print tax forms, I gave up and drove myself to Best Buy. In the parking lot, I gave myself a stern talking-to, straightened my spine, took a deep breath, and walked through the door.
“HPs are the simplest to set up,” the barely-out-of-his-teens clerk assured me. I nodded my head sagely and pointed to one of the HP printers on display. “Ok, I’ll take that one.” Twenty minutes later I walked out with a brand-new machine that claims to print, copy, and scan – all wirelessly.
That printer knew I was afraid of the set-up process. It thwarted every action I took, every button I pushed. Paper was loaded. The blue Wi-Fi button was glowing. My computer said it was connected, but then asked for some random key that I didn’t have and couldn’t find. Our Wi-Fi password didn’t work. The product serial number didn’t work. Neither did the random numbers and characters I typed out of frustration.
Finally, the printer spit out a piece of paper with an email address where I could send a print command. I tried that and it worked, but I am simply not going to email my printer every time I want to print a document.
I went to bed and tried not to dream about recalcitrant printers.
This afternoon, I tried again. I checked the HP help website and ran the troubleshooting application, the same thing I had done last night. But today, the stars were aligned, and my computer started talking to the printer. And the printer talked back accepting my print commands. It was great. For a while.
Then, the paper got jammed. I took the printer nearly apart before finding the culprit. I tried to turn off the printer, but it got hung up in its shutting down process. I pulled the plug.
Some of us were meant to write things down on paper with a pen.
Note: I did eventually get the printer to print the tax forms I needed. I think we have come to terms. I’m not holding my breath for a long and successful relationship.