I’m trapped in an toxic relationship…with my printer

Printing me softly

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This is a warning about about the excess of mankind, and the point where Capitalism becomes irrational and unpredictable.

This is a gentle reminder of the day I learnt the true cost of printer ink. This is also a story about learning not to take for granted the good things in life.

I had always printed in my lab, but it all started when I began to feel the need to print over the weekends too. I missed the propelling of droplets of ink onto paper, the soft sound of the printing printer, being able to transform the data on my screen into something warm I could hold in my own hands.

I HP you like Jammin too

My relationship with HP 1515 started for all the worst reasons. I was needy and she was cheap. But she was perfect for me. She could print, copy, and scan, she was everything I looked for in a printer.

In the beginning our relationship was ideal. I was printing left and right; printing all my research papers, printing the photos from my summer holidays, even printing nerdy internet memes to decorate my desk. I was printing my worries away in high resolution photographic quality.

With time, problems started, but I was too blinded by the high chromatic saturation to notice. Looking back, I think things began to go downhill before the winter break.

I asked HP 1515 to print a high resolution image of a shirtless James McAvoy. She got jealous and decided not to print it. I asked her why, and the only answer I got was that she was “busy.”

I am not proud of this, but I was not gentle with her. I asked her to print anyway. That’s when the paper jams started. I knew HP 1515 was unwell but I pushed her anyway. Sometimes she would pretend she didn’t received my requests. “No Jobs Found. Retry?”

To be fair, I shouldn’t have expected for her to satisfy my needs, because I had ignored hers for so long. HP 1515 started started nagging at me all the time: “Insert Tray,” “Low Toner,” “Insufficient Memory.” But she also continued fighting for our relationship. She begged me to “Check Communication with Printer” but I didn’t pay attention and continued to click “Not Today”. She started finding ways to satisfy her needs without me. I would constantly find her “Performing Self Test,” and, eventually, I stopped caring.

Post Traumatic Press Disorder

But last Sunday everything broke apart. I was in a rush, in a moment of deep need, and I asked HP1515 to print three pages. She did her best to print the first page, but she ran out of toner halfway through. The indicator LED in the shape of a droplet was flashing red. I knew this day would come – the day I would have to change the cartridge.  HP 1515 made a bold statement: “Install New Print Cartridge”. I knew it was time for me to do something for her.

In a desperate attempt to fix the situation quickly I took the cartridges from the old communal printer in my house. HP 1515 was not pleased: “Unsupported Print Cartridge”, she said. She didn’t want my cheap offerings, my desperate attempts at winning her back. Then it hit me. I had taken HP 1515 for granted for way too long, and the truth was that I needed her.

I rushed to OfficeMax, ready to give HP 1515 all she deserved, and she deserved the best: HP 662 Tri-color, and HP 662XL High Yield Black Ink Advantage Cartridges. That was the day I learnt the true cost of maintaining a good relationship with my printer, the day I learnt that I had been printing beyond my means.

IT corporations promise us young and cheap printers, only to empty our pockets for this extravagantly priced liquid. Printer Ink is the most valuable liquid I know. Its cost surpasses that of Dom Pérignon, unicorn blood, and the rare sweat of a monarch. As a university student, I suddenly regretted investing so much in my education. Perhaps instead I should have invested in octopuses: they are surprisingly entertaining and they shit ink all day long.

The path of human progress was revolutionised when the use of the printing press became mainstream. Nowadays, hundreds of years later, our basic human right to print cheaply is being oppressed by the inflated prices imposed by the evil printing corporate giants. Where are the activists? Where are the concerned masses?

Black days: my printer has chronic depression

Printer ink is so valuable that our monetary system consists on an exchange of printed pieces of paper. Printer ink is also about four thousand times more expensive than petrol. I think that we should start printing books with gasoline, that way it would also be easier for religious nuts to burn copies of The God Delusion.

My handwriting muscles have atrophied after months of conveniently printing, the callus on my right index finger has almost vanished completely. Without printing I feel asphyxiated and anxious. My name is Isa, and I am addicted to printer ink. I am condemned to a life of feeding my expensive addiction.

I suddenly understood why HP 1515 was asking me to print in economy mode so often, it was her way to say that I should pipe down my chromatic excesses. She was looking after me. After that fateful Sunday, I decided that from now on, I’ll only print things that I absolutely need to.

I installed the new print cartridges in HP 1515, and I asked her whether things could go back the way they were before I started to treat her poorly.

Her indicator LEDs flashed green, she replied “Resetting Printer,” and we have been going strong ever since.