Most mornings, I work at Carnegie Hall, copying, smiling, and helping my work supervisors and professors with clerical work. I really appreciate the job because it has helped me to get to know a really cool individual I like to call Mr. Copy Machine. My job has also helped me develop a genuine appreciation for photocopying.
I love photocopying. It might sound strange, but having so much association with this impressive machine creates a special bond of friendship and understanding that is for the most part incomprehensible to the average human. Mr. Copy Machine speaks to me. He whines when you feed him paper incorrectly and gives a deep sigh of pride at the end of each copy job.
He knows he is my buddy, and as such I treat him with a great deal of respect. When punching in department codes, I try to do so with the greatest degree of accuracy so he doesn’t get angry. If you accidentally key in inaccurate information, he rejects it instantly. He has no patience for sloppy individuals and values his time quite highly. Thus, if you don’t have your data right, you had best correct it before you start wasting his time. If you know you want your copy job double-sided, sorted, and stapled, you had best not key in double-sided and stapled, because no such job exists for him.
When there is a paper jam, it means you have been irresponsible and have either tugged at copied work before it has fully made its way to the paper tray or have fed in crumpled, unacceptable paper. Mr. Copy Machine is extremely high maintenance. He is, however, very forgiving and at least gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes by clearly indicating on his screen where the sheet of paper (or sheets as the case may be) got stuck.
After he alerts you about the paper jam, he then leaves you to your intellectual devices to figure out exactly where you went wrong. Usually, this is such a painful experience that most people try extremely hard not to feed in crumpled paper that does not meet his standards. In the end, it works out quite well for both parties, as Mr. Copy Machine’s users end up being efficient in their use of his offerings and Mr. Copy Machine continues to deliver quality, top-rate photocopies for their use.
I really like Mr. Copy Machine on a personal level because of his kind and understanding nature. After we established a connection, we became so close, we began to understand each other’s moods and energy levels.
For instance, one morning, I got to work extremely tired because I had pulled an all-nighter the night before. I had an urgent copy job from a professor to do and I had to get it done with a near-zero percent energy level. I dragged my weary self to Mr. Copy Machine and hit the start button sloppily. He could tell I was tired. I punched in the department code, copied the first page, and fell asleep, right in front of Mr. Copy Machine. He probably felt sorry for me, as he did everything else himself, all 50 of the copies.
Until today, I don’t know how my copy buddy got that job done, but somehow he finished and gave his signature satisfactory beep. I woke up and smiled. I inspected his work. It was as perfect as he is.
I am really grateful to the Carnegie Academic Support Office for granting me the unique opportunity to develop such a beautiful friendship with Mr. Copy Machine. I encourage every prospective Grinnellian to try to develop a meaningful relationship with the nearest copy machine they find available on campus. Hopefully, they will be able to experience the beauty of his humanity as a machine with values of efficiency, mutual respect, and professionalism.
Nmachi Jidenma ’09 is an Economics major from Lagos, Nigeria.