I started working in small offices when I was 17. As in, not in this century.
I was an expert in fixing photocopiers, although those newfangled ones that could do a second colour were more trouble than they were worth. When I left one job, I was asked to demonstrate to one of the other office people how to insert the full length of one's arm into the machine to retrieve the tiny little scrap of paper that had gummed the whole thing up, and then flick, shake and rearrange the innards of the machine to make it work again. I could do it blindfolded.
That's a true story.
I also knew how to pour loose toner from a container into the machine without it spilling all over the room and my clothes. I knew how to wipe down wires that needed cleaning. I knew the order to open doors, flip levers and pull toggles, and then close them all up again with expert speed. And on a more recent machine, I had a tiny little screwdriver, with which I could dismantle and reassemble certain crucial parts that had an ongoing disagreement with me.
That's also true. All of this is true.
I also was on a friendly first-name basis with the service people. One of them referred to me as "Father Patti". I had their phone number memorized.
But when we moved to this place, we got a new machine. A big, multi-use, full-colour one. It copies, prints, faxes, scans, emails and folds laundry. I was fairly suspicious of the whole concept. What happens when it breaks down? We're all toast, that's what happens. They assured me that everyone said that. But it doesn't break down, they said.
They patiently allowed it. Everyone scoffed. Never had a machine been built that didn't require jiggling and shaking and dismantling and unjamming and desperate praying.
They assured me there would still be a service contract, but really - nothing would go wrong.
And it hasn't. True story. The machine is a living wonder, expertly copying, printing, scanning, faxing, emailing. I find I have to refold the towels when it's done, but that's probably just because I have a personal preference of how towels should be folded.
But here's the dark side of this true story. When a machine of such wonder is in one's office, one completely loses the ability to fix it if something DOES go wrong. One stares at it uncomprehendingly, wondering why it is behaving in such a way. There is nowhere to insert one's arm. No visible screws to take out.
And I have no idea where the phone number is for the service contract that I know I must have ... somewhere ... surely we have a service contract for this thing??!!!
It took me 20 minutes to find it.
I called, terrified they'd ask me for a password or something, because I swear to you, I have no idea what it is. But they didn't. Someone is coming, apparently.
I bet they're not going to call me Father Patti though.