‘So you think you work hard, huh? Well, you need to look around you. Some of us work a lot harder than you…go on, take a look.’
I was taken aback. I knew I was a hard worker. In actual fact, I figured I was one of the hardest workers in the office. Now someone was challenging me – someone without a name.
‘Yeah, that’s what I thought. No guts to speak up when someone is sticking your nose in the truth, is there?’
Who exactly was this dude? Why did he feel the need to explain his worth? Insecurity?
I decided to challenge him. ‘OK then, why do you think you’re the hardest worker?’
‘You mean you don’t realise? How many people are working on this floor? No, don’t bother counting…I’ve already done it….sixty eight people. Yeah, that’s right sixty eight people. Now how many printers are there? I can tell you that too….one – me. And I look after all of you workers day in and day out. I am working here before any of you come in the morning and I’m the last one to rest at night.’
‘But wouldn’t you say it wasn’t harder work, just more time consuming?’ I asked.
‘Time consuming! Don’t you realise time is money? I see all of you going on tea or lunch breaks, but no…I never get even one break a day – or pay. I should be getting paid more than all of you put together!
I realised he had one big chip on his shoulder so I’d better tread carefully. ‘Yeah, you’re right…you do work hard but…’
‘But! What do you mean ‘but’? I spend all my days printing reports, statements, letters, photocopying, faxing, sorting papers, in whatever way you want. Black, colour, I’ll even staple the papers if you want me to. See how smart I am. It’s about time you people appreciated me.’
‘Oh but we do appreciate you. I’d like to know something though…what do you do for recreation if you’re always working.’
‘hehehe! Well now, I’d better let you into a little secret. I DON’T GET NONE! Not like you workers who log off and go home to a nice comfy couch and relax. No, I’m stuck in the office 24/7 and never get let out. One time, someone tried to turn me off – they really tried to suck the life out of me, but I showed them.’
‘What did you show them?’ curiosity was getting the better of me.
‘Well, I decided to do the old ‘malfunction – operator error’ trick. They panicked and left me alone.’
‘What about the next day?’
‘What about the next day? When I saw her coming along, I made a few groaning noises and she soon left.’
‘So you fixed her up?’
‘Well…not really, she came back with this man in a uniform holding a small tool box. He proceeded to take some of my insides out while she tried to tell him what was wrong with me….do you know how humiliating it is to be undressed in the office and left exposed so that everyone can see your insides?’
I grinned – but only for a second. I didn’t want to get him off side. ‘No, I don’t suppose it’s nice…did you eventually make up?’
‘Are you serious? Next time I saw her coming, I made sure the print she wanted was smudged…only thing was she made me print the same thing three times before she went to another floor to print the pages. You know, I laughed so hard when she left that someone complained about the whirring sound that I had to stop.’
Well, you really fixed her up, didn’t you. What other malicious things are you planning to do in the office? I don’t want to get on the wrong side of you.’
‘No, you won’t. I like you. You’re the only office worker to ever take the time to listen to me. You don’t treat me like an old printer. You respect me. I don’t mind doing work for you.’
So I left and went back to my computer and printed out a letter. When I went to pick it up from the printer, it read something altogether different:
THE PRINTER IS OVERWORKED. IT HAS GONE ON STRIKE. TREAT IT WITH RESPECT AND YOU WILL GET A LONG LIFE.
I knew I had to make peace with this temperamental old load of shit. I decided to change my tactic. I needed another person in the room to do it.
Just then Sonia walked in.
‘Sonia, how’s things going?’
‘Not good I’m afraid. The printer is doing some really weird things.’
‘Oh?’ I queried.
‘Well, the last thing I typed for the boss was apparently ‘unprofessional’. The boss complained until I showed him what my screen said and what the printer printed was miles apart.’
‘So what happened?’
‘The boss has suggested we replace this load of crap for a new state of the art printer. At least that way, we’d get a decent job…..pity, it used to work so well,’ she said as she left the room.
I stayed to see how he’d react. He remained silent.
Finally I spoke. ‘Do you think it might be worth reconsidering your attitude? If you don’t shape up, you are going to be shipped out.’
‘Yeah, well I’ve been thinking about retirement. I’m just wondering what the perks would be?’
‘I can tell you the only perk would be to get complete rest. Nothing to do day in, day out. You’d be piled on top of the scrap heap…’
‘The scrap heap? Isn’t that where they melt you down and…’
‘Yep, sure is, but at least you won’t have to work hard any longer. After all, you’ve earned it.’
‘There’s a lot of life in me yet,’ he argued, ‘they can think what they like, but they can’t get rid of me that easily,’ and with that he began printing bright, colourful posters. Perfectly centred, no mistakes.
‘Who says I can’t do it?’ he cried
‘Well, you’re certainly showing you know your stuff. They might have to reconsider their intentions,’ I commented.
‘You betcha! I’ve got a new lease on life. I might have my whinge every now and then, but basically I’m a good hard worker.’
‘Are you sure?’ I asked, ‘after what you’ve just told me, you’re rather rebellious.’
‘No, from now on, I’m going to try another tactic. I’ll become over efficient. That way, they can’t afford to put me on the scrap heap.’
‘You know, that sounds like a fail proof tactic,’ I encouraged, ‘with that attitude, you can only get better.’
‘I’ll outdo all of you yet. And when you forget to respect me, wolla! I’ll just shut up shop again.’
‘I hear you, but I’m hoping you can work with us, rather than against us.’
‘Yes, of course I can…for the time being.