It's deadline week at Casa PBW, and I'm ready for the final manuscript crunch. Got my tea canister stocked, the man briefed, the kids prepped, the pets pampered, the housework done, and seven meals pre-cooked, packed and in the freezer with instructions taped to the lids. Bought a brand new box of printer paper, a backup toner cartridge, and a document box ready for the final product.
All I need is a printer. Only I don't have one. Mine blew up.
Harry, my beautiful high volume laser printer, who has never failed me once in three years, died last week. I was in the middle of printing out a draft and he simply shut down. He would not respond to reason, pleading, begging, or tears. I had to rush him out to my repair guy and pray for it to be a simple fix.
Repair Guy called today with the good news. It's the fuse assembly, Ms. Kelly. Happens once in a while. I can fix it for a hundred thirty bucks, have it back to you by Thursday. It's a great machine, so it's worth it.
I know Harry is a great machine. I take care of Harry. He's worth more than $130.00 to me. Naturally I said, Fix him.
I triumphantly reported this minor fuse assembly situation to Angel, my technowiz and hardware consultant friend. Angel immediately disagreed with my decision. Harry's repair cost too much money; it wasn't worth it. We got into a volley of words as I defended my beautiful outdated high volume junky laser but no color Harry printer.
Angel insisted I go to the local computer store with all the bright new shiny laser printers and call him from there so he could use the visual aids to further explain the error of my ways. I went because I needed some document wallets, and the man did once prevent me from using a hedge trimmer to finish off a petulant FAX machine.
Look for the new HP all-in-one, I was told once I had arrived and phoned Angel from the store. Dutifully I found a monstrosity that had so many buttons and trays and feeders and flaps that it looked like a square R2D2. That one will print black-n-white and color, scan, FAX and copy stuff, he said. For less than what you paid for the old junky thing. See if they have a pamphlet.
Junky old thing. Angel simply doesn't understand my relationship with Harry. Harry has printed out my last eighteen novels. Harry has never let me down, never jammed paper, never spit blobs of toner on my manuscripts, and never skipped a page. Harry has been a constant, dependable presence in my career. Big bonus: Harry never argues with me.
I found the pamphlet for the R2D2-squared thing. It required not one but five different toner cartridges. The system requirements sounded like a shuttle preflight checklist. It did things for which I had no working definition. I flashed back on the first time I hooked up a VCR to a cable box, and superimposed scenes from a horrible seventies movie called The Demon Seed.
You sound like Darth Vader, Angel said over the phone. Quit it. You have to stop getting so attached to these things. How much do they want for it?
I finally looked at the price tag. $999.00. The cell phone didn't break when I dropped it, but I did have to call Angel back. Then there was a short interval of strangled choking noises through which I managed to relay the price.
Not bad, he said. Though I can probably get it for a hundred bucks less. Well?
I told him what I thought. In French, so I wouldn't get booted out of the store.
Angel sighed. You better not call me when that old junky thing blows a motherboard. Go on, run.
With much gratitude, I fled the store.
Harry will be home day after tomorrow. I can't wait to hook him back up. Two cords, one button, all done. Harry will never scan or FAX or copy or take over my house and reprogram me and the kids. He'll just print out manuscripts, which is fine with me. And if something else blows, well, how much could a motherboard cost, anyway?