Those Lowdown Printer Blues

THOSE  LOW  DOWN  PRINTER  BLUES      (first stanza)

I want to own a printer,  my very own printer to use with my Samsung Chromebook.  I’m trying to order one.  Simple, right?  Well, it should be but unfortunately things aren’t going well.  In fact the entire procedure is driving me mad.

My problem is frustration, pure and simple.  Mix that with an equal amount of annoyance, a big portion of impatience and a dash of Irish temper and you have a mind brought to a complete standstill.

My synapses won’t synchronize,  I’m not capable of thinking beyond the moment.  In a word, I don’t handle frustration well at all.

What has brought on this catastrophic condition?  Actually, now that I’m beginning to get a grip, not that much really.  In fact, as I begin to calm down I feel embarrassed.  Still frustrated, but come on now, let’s not get so carried away.

To be fair, I did start this myself – three long weeks ago.  Now that I’m caught up in the Wide World’s Web, I’m not coping.

First of all a selection had to be made.  My tablet, actually a small PC, isn’t compatible with everything so my daughters searched online for me and a match was made.  No, it wasn’t a dating site, thank you.

My first call was to BEST BUY, not the local BEST BUY I plan to visit, that would be too easy.  They’re very difficult to reach by phone.  I listen to a DISTANT VOICE  telling me there is no printer that will do what I want.  Unconvinced and undaunted, favorite son and I appear in person at the local BEST BUY, Chromebook in hand,  looking for the proverbial 16 year old who knows everything.

Instead we deal with a frustrated adult who is trying to serve  three customers at once.   He finally informs us between other customers that what I want doesn’t exist. Honestly, these emotional people, totally unsuited to meeting the public. Just because I happen to ask the same question twice, or was it three times?  Anyway, sir, a little self-control here please.

Never one to give up, I go home and call Samsung’s 800 number.  Their DISTANT VOICE tells me “Yes,”  what I want does exist and she gives me facts and numbers.  She also says something about a cloud.  I don’t pay too much attention, figuring she is referring to my state of mind, which is really none of her business.

I report back to my offspring, one of whom tracks down just what I want on Amazon.  It’s even on sale, a mere $69.98; and Oh by the way, there’s a shipping and handling fee of only $18.78.

The order is placed and my toy  will be delivered in 5 days.  I wait patiently, 5 days, 6 days, 7 days, ENOUGH!  I track my order online (I can do a few things myself).  It was delivered by FEDEX exactly as promised – to an address I haven’t lived at for nearly 2 years!  My precious box has been sitting in the office at that address all these days.

I grab my old-fashioned clamshell cell phone and call the daughter who fortunately lives only 40 miles away from that office. She makes a quick run, spots my order sitting just outside the closed office  (this is on a busy week-day) and leaves a note with phone numbers, all info, etc.  No response.

The next day another trip finds the office still closed, my order still sitting there, ready to be picked up.  She decides to kidnap the box, leaving full details to whomever, explaining everything,  and hand carries the package to the FEDEX office to be returned to Amazon

.Amazon graciously sends me the info that my refund will be credited to my account immediately, and Oh by the way, there will be an additional charge of $15.78 for return and handling.

I won’t even mention the accompanying order for the U.S.B. cable I need to hook up what is by now my non-existent printer.  My synapses would snap totally out of sync.

I don’t quite understand Amazon’s cloud, Google’s cloud or Samsung’s cloud but I visualize a wispy, amorphous brain up there close to Heaven, gigantic in size, holding all the Secrets Of The Universe; and I wonder which tiny fissure was guarding my no-longer relevant address all this time, just waiting to drive me mad.

I feel a lot better now that I’ve gotten all this frustration out of my system and down on paper.  There’s only one small problem,  I  still don’t have a printer.

THOSE  LOW  DOWN  PRINTER  BLUES       (second stanza)

Two weeks later I have one, a printer all my own!  There  it sits on its shelf, looking important and ready to do its thing.  And here I sit, more than ready to let it.  Favorite son found it for me and I’m primed to print.

This is not the original one I had ordered from Amazon.  This is supposedly better, easier to use and, oh yes, cheaper.  $59.98 with no shipping.

It’s an Epson, compatible with all tablets, PCs and computers, and proud of being cloud-ready.  By now I’ve learned something about clouds in reference to storage, and my Samsung Chromebook is cloud-ready!

A large step-by-step instruction sheet comes out of the box like a Cracker Jack prize.  I unfold it confidently.   I can do this!  Step 1 – easy.  Step 2 – no problem!  Steps 3 and 4 – piece of cake!  Step 5 – Wait, what’s this?  It doesn’t make any sense.  I re-read it carefully; I still don’t get it.

I study the Epson Quick Guide. No help there.  I get out all the information that came with the Chromebook, pore over that. No joy there either. I consult various family members and get a few ideas, none of which seem to work.

I want to call both Samsung’s and Epson’s help lines but I have no idea what to ask. I don’t know what I don’t know.  So now what?

Daughter #2 makes a quick trip down to put Mom out of her misery.   Numerous  consultations by text and phone with techy daughter #1 have no results.  It seems the instructions are written for either Windows or Macs.  The Chromebook uses neither.  Nothing works.  Several of my questions are answered, some of the problems solved, but my shiny new printer still won’t  print.

I call the ever helpful office ladies who staff the desk at my residence.  One of the perks of living in a retirement community is the support they give us. They realize they’re not familiar with what I want to do and suggest I call Peter, the pleasant, knowledgeable man who works on the office electronics. He sees this as a challenge and comes by the next day.  30 minutes and a small fee later we have printing!  Eureka!!  He found a minor glitch in the IP number and that does it.  How simple!

I find something worth printing, attach the printer cable to the Chromebook  and laboriously type in my material.  (Every other girl in my high school class took typing.)   An hour or so later I punch the correct buttons, lean back and wait for printed pages to roll out.  Lights flash, noises are heard, pages appear, none with print.

I repeat all the proper procedures as I understand them.  Still no results.  Third time is a charm, or so they say.  Not true – they lie.  I find myself punching more buttons.  Before I can stop I’ve fallen into a frenzy of button punching.

Every arrow or light that shows gets punched.  Still nothing.

By now I’m unable to stop myself. One of these blankety-blank buttons has to work. The printer sits there stubbornly refusing to co-operate.  After one last round of button punching and name calling on my part it suddenly shuts down totally, staring at me implacably as I fume.

I glare at it and it smirks back.  I frantically re-read everything I can find, working up to a total breakdown, whether it or me.

Ten long minutes later it comes back to life, having proven just who is in charge.  I cautiously resume my button punching, trying to make sense out of its flashing instructions as I bring them up.  The phrase “It’s all Greek to me” pops into my mind as I gape at the unfamiliar words, except that they aren’t Greek, they’re Portuguese!

Somehow, somewhere I’ve punched into LANGUAGE and I can’t get back.  I give up in defeat.  The printer wins round one as it sneers at me in Portuguese.

THOSE  LOW  DOWN  PRINTER  BLUES                (third stanza)

By now 3 weeks have become 5.  Not willing to give up yet, I spend the next few days pouting, re-testing the printer, calling it names and pestering my family.  The mention of the word “Portuguese” sends everyone into fits of laughter.

I consult with our office ladies again but they’re not sure they can do much more, especially when I mention  “Portuguese.”  They suggest  another call to Peter for help.

I fuss and fume some more and finally decide to tackle it myself, step by step, making phone calls to the various help lines as I progress (assuming I do progress).  My first call is to Comcast who had recently installed a modem for me.  My first question, “Why does the 4th  blue light from the top constantly flicker?”  DISTANT VOICE #1 runs tests, assures me all is well on their end.  Her polite manner cracks a bit and her voice sounds slightly strained as our discussion continues.  She turns me over to

DISTANT VOICE #2 who explains patiently several times that the light flickers to prove it’s working properly – Well, Duh!  (I think I’ve already mentioned that I don’t know what I don’t know.)

I decide I can only embarrass myself so much and I tackle Epson Help Line next.  This DISTANT VOICE is a very polite, well trained young man with an interesting accent who begins to talk me through a procedure by describing icons such as a wrench and a screwdriver.  These I get.  We come to a series of unintelligible instructions, Portuguese, of course, when suddenly the word LANGUAGE leaps out at me.  I punch a button.

English words flash on, not fully understandable but at least readable.

Meanwhile DISTANT VOICE #2 is sounding a little stressed so I thank him profusely, hang up and return to punching buttons. Well, that was too easy.  Naturally the printer still won’t print, but at least it won’t print in English, as opposed to not printing in Portuguese

This time I call Samsung Support Line, which by the way is not toll-free.  They know when they’ve gotcha.  Their first pleasant young man, well trained and with a heavy accent, tries patiently to listen to my babbling and manages to establish the fact that my password hasn’t been registered in the cloud.  There’s that cloud again, making my life ever more complicated.  I begin the tedious job of registering in the cloud,  find his presence in my ear is making me more jittery than ever, he is decidedly too tense, so I tell him I’ll call back when I’m done. He gives me an 11 digit referral code. thanks me, (HE thanks ME) and we hang up.

But wait, there’s more.  Still no results.  Back to Samsung Support Line, third pleasant young man, slight accent, voice gets a little strained from time to time as we wrestle the situation step by step.  Suddenly he informs me that his supervisor will be happy to assist me.  He politely thanks me and signs off.  (I think I hear a sigh of relief.)  The supervisor is very pleasant and very polite although I soon pick up on a note of strain as she walks me through the procedure.  (Why do they hire all these nervous people to deal with the public anyway?)

Nervous or not, she is able to advise me to the point where that blankety-blank machine actually prints out what I had typed in Lo, those many days ago!  I may have cried, I’m not sure, but I do remember pledging her my undying love and gratitude as SHE thanks Me and politely hangs up.  I have a suspicion my phone calls have all been taped and are being used to train an endless stream of polite young men and women with accents on how handle difficult customers.  If only they could control their nerves.  We customers try.

Oh yes, one thing I learned through experimenting on my own; when the machine did try to print through all its traumas it would groan and moan like an elephant giving birth – took almost that long to produce a page, too, whether printed or blank. I had placed it on a shelf next to my toaster oven for convenience  (I live in a small apartment, very small), so I moved it to an open area and the pages churned out in no time

This latest round of nerve-wracking activity took almost a week, and probably years off my life expectancy, what with me thinking up feasible moves and trying them out, multiple phone calls, and countless times on hold.   Six weeks after my decision to buy a printer, I have one, it prints and I’m happy.

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4 thoughts on “Those Lowdown Printer Blues

  1. Oh Joan if you only knew how many times I’ve been there. Your writing is engaging, and funny. Keep it up, I so enjoy these blogs.

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  2. Great post, Joan. Even young folks who grew up with this technology have trouble with it. That reminds me. I need to contact various support departments about why some of my emails are getting through and others aren’t, even to the same recipient. Urg! Anyway, keep up the good writing. Never let technical troubles distract you, like I too often do.

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