The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site

author:  Margie Culbertson

Guest Author Pages

On Black Gold and HP....


M.L. Nelson

There is an icon blinking in my systray. It sounds like a personal problem and it is one, but there is a solution. It's time to change my printer's colored ink cartridge (um…ink–cartridge–of–color). However, I have not done so, though it's been blinking for three weeks.

I've grown sort of attached to it; like it's a little friend, or hostage. It flashes from miniature picture of printer to miniature picture of the earth–next–to–a–yellow–caution–triangle. Who comes up with these icons? It's hungry…hungry for color, and I deny it every day. No color, no color for you. Mwahahahaha! (evil laugh).

I'm procrastinating because printers are obnoxious. First of all, the ink is priced like it's some sort of rare, non–renewable resource. It is excruciatingly painful to purchase an ink cartridge, especially one of color, because I can't begin to imagine how ink can possibly be worth that much money. So I've become a printing miser; only allowing my friends and family to print using the "fast draft" option. They are only allowed to print when it's absolutely necessary, and multiple paged documents must be printed 4 to a page. Hey, they can read it with a magnifying glass, ok? They'll live.

Besides, when you go to the local Officey Mega–Depot–Max–Mart, the ink is kept behind the customer service desk. So you can't shoplift it. If it wasn't so expensive, nobody would even think of shoplifting ink. Instead, you have to grovel with the clerk to get just the right number for your particular printer and, HP forbid, you neglect to remember your printer name and number (which is usually something like the 45983D–Z~Printpro 500x.2 SuPerPhoToMax G12–1972abceasyas123), because you'll never figure out which cartridge number goes with it.

The clerk gets all flustered and won't share the look–up book with you, even though you know you could probably figure it out if you could only spend a moment flipping through the pictures to locate your model. The clerk gets all haughty, "Well is it a PrintPro or a Photopro? Jet or lazer? Did you read the instruction manual? Do you know anything?" And then I say something like, "I went to college minimum–wage boy, and if you'd hand over the stupid guide book, I'd be able to throw it at you."

Eventually, I get the ink ingot home and it's time to put it into my printer. However, I open up the font and it starts to have seizures; buzzing back and forth, blinking lights, the display reprimands "CAUTION PRINTER HOOD OPEN! MISSILES WILL LAUNCH IN 10 SECONDS, 9, 8, 7…" I reach for the empty unit, unlatch it and remove it, carefully, like I'm performing internal surgery. An attractive nurse dabs my forehead. I transplant the new cartridge in and all appears fine, until I close the hatch. Now the thing hums, stops and beeps long and hard. In the display it says, "PRINT CARTRIDGE INSERTED IMPROPERLY YOU MORON. WHY DON"T YOU READ THE MANUAL, FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE." So, I open the hood, remove the cartridge, shove it back in a few times, and close it up. It whimpers, but otherwise appears to be satisfied.

My computer pipes up next with an ultra helpful utility window that proudly announces, "A new printer cartridge has been installed!!" No, really? You don't say! Then it asks, "Align printer cartridges?" It all seems so innocent and meaningful and I think, "Sure, I can see how that's important;" but when I click OK the printer once again freaks out and then, to my horror, starts PRINTING! Printing a lot. Printing page after page of high quality colored dots, squares, Mona Lisa's , numbers, letters, tildes, punctuation cussing….It won't stop, it's using all the ink I just bought for it…cancel, cancel, cancel…I'm frantically mousing the cancel button on my computer. I try the cancel button on the printer but it laughs at me…beep ha ha, beep ha ha. I turn it off, which stops it, but when I turn it on again, it keeps going! Ahhhhhhhhh. Then suddenly, it stops. I now have a booklet of fresh photo–quality colored gibberish and all is quiet. I cry.

So go ahead and blink at me. I know what you're up to ambiguous icon, and I'm not falling for it, you ink vampire. I'll change you when I'm darned tootin' ready and not a minute sooner. Beep, ha ha.

© M.L. Nelson


I'm a 30/some professional who, among other things, copes with attention issues and the purpose of life—mine specifically. I'm a family therapist by education, a government social worker by dumb luck, and aspire to have a far more interesting and important career for some reason. I'm a loving but imperfect wife and mother. I live in Oregon and really should be writing humor instead of trying to solve the problems of mankind. What was I thinking??

You can read more of my writing at my website:  Click HERE to go to the website.

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©Margie Culbertson

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