Printer Cops

Someone in my office apparently obsessively lurks by the printer, and when anything, I mean anything, is printed, leaps into action, removes the paper from the tray, and places it face up on a common table nearby. Every single time I have printed on this machine, by the time I can physically walk from my desk to the printer, the paper has already been removed and placed on display.

Admittedly it is “a long walk” from my desk to the printer, because the printer nearer to my desk is broken. But the walk is not longer than 45 seconds.

The lesson here, I guess, is that if for any reason you might be printing anything, ever, that you don’t want the entire office to see, you need to stand next to the printer with your laptop, print the document, and grab it as it comes out.

Not joking. I’ve done this.

I get that it’s a problem to let stuff pile up. We publish books here, and sometimes it’s chapters or even whole manuscripts that are being printed. You don’t want a forgotten job gumming up the tray. But seriously, could we be granted a 2 minute grace period to get to the printer before our stuff is displayed in the deadbeat printer hall of shame?

I wonder sometimes if this is a generational thing. There was a time when office documents were routinely seen by lots of people because someone else opened and delivered your incoming mail (at least I assume they did…why else do we put addresses on letters themselves?), as well as typing and sending your outgoing. Perhaps print jobs, likewise, would come out in a central area to be retrieved by gophers and delivered to the rightful parties. This kind of office culture, however, is totally foreign to me. While I certainly don’t have any illusions about who owns my work email account and the servers it lives on, I am used to some superficial measure of privacy over my correspondence.

Or perhaps its more primal than that: even if it’s not private or confidential, I just expect people not to touch my stuff unless they have a reason to.

I tend to think of shared printers like shared laundry facilities. At some point, if someone is rudely hogging the machines by failing to clear their stuff out, you’re free to go ahead and move it. But until they’ve had the opportunity to take care of their own stuff, it’s not your business or your place to touch it. I’ve made the choice to put my laundry in a place where it’s accessible to you, and taken on the risk that goes along with that. But the cordial thing to do is not go through it, even though you technically can. 

Am I the uptight one in this situation? Anyone else have issues with this?


One thought on “Printer Cops

  1. Hahahaha its totally like a shared laundry machine! If someone grabs your stuff out right away it’s rude! Don’t touch my stuff! That has to be someone who has had an issue in the past with the printer…

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