Technology can be a really wonderful thing – it can make our lives easier and help us do things a lot faster than if we were just sitting around with sticks and stones. The trouble with technology, however, is when it doesn’t work – as you shall see from the following ongoing ordeal that I have been having trying to get a decent quality printout. Sometimes sticks break your bones and stones shatter your spirit.

The First Printer To Break
I run a small one inch button company in addition to doing computer work for a couple of clients. I bought an HP Laserjet 5L for all of my black and white printing needs. When I realized that I was going to start making buttons in color as well I invested in an inkjet printer. The beautiful thing about the Laserjet printer was that for over two years, there were no problems whatsoever.

I didn’t even change the toner in the printer once and the printing was consistently beautiful. This all changed for the worse one day when I was trying to print out a simple page of labels for a button part organizer I use to take to craft shows. Somehow, the paper went in crookedly and it got jammed inside the printer.

Not only did it get jammed inside the printer, but it apparently got jammed in the printer in the worst way possible. When I tried researching it, people wrote that if the paper was stuck in the way that my paper was stuck, there was pretty much no hope and you’d have to get a new printer. Why was this the case? I tried to get the paper out but a small portion of it refused to budge. I got tweezers involved in it and it still wouldn’t do anything. I somehow went from having a beautifully functional printer to a piece of junk within a matter of five minutes.

Even when my button business partner and I put our heads together and tried to take it apart it only made things worse. Worse than not working? What could be not working? Not working and in pieces is worse than not working and properly put together – I found this out the hard way. The hard way, of course, is that I now have a black and white laser printer that is in pieces and won’t work and can’t be reassembled for less than five times what I paid for the printer itself.

The Obscene Cost of Repair
This leads to another thought – why does repair cost so much? Many times repair comes at a flat fee and the fee is astronomically higher than the thing that is being repaired. This does nothing but encourage people to continue to fill space in garbage dumps with technology that is cheaper to replace than to repair. It brings to mind an unusual thought – tights.

My mother told me that when she was growing up in Romania, the cost of tights was so high that there were people to whom one could take ones tights in the event of a run – those people would fix your tights for a very reasonable fee. Instead of subsidizing farmers and encouraging them to grow nothing while a lot of the world eats air soup and languishes with distended bellies that we then get to see on commercials with our favorite television celebrities, the subsidies could go toward technological repair so that it would only cost $15 to fix a printer instead of $95. Try saying that sentence ten times fast.

The Faulty Ink Monitor
For a good long while, the color ink jet printer was a thing of beauty. It would print page after page of colorful button papers that I could then take to craft shows and make into buttons right in front of people’s amazed eyes. I got great deals on ink, not paying thirty or forty dollars but instead getting it for ten or twelve. This too had to come crashing down on me all of a sudden when I designed a beautiful new Barack Obama button. I gave the design idea to my business partner / artist, he drew it up and e-mailed it to me, and I set it up for the printer.

When I sent it to the printer a most disasterous thing happened – it came out looking nothing like how it looked on the screen. The colors were completely mixed up and distorted – almost as though there were missing inks. I checked the digital ink display and it showed that all of the inks were at least sixty percent full.

The (so far) Worse Replacement
I thought it was high time I got a color laser printer. I looked at reviews and came up with the Samsung CLP-300 – I liked the idea that it had a small footprint, as I don’t live in a mansion and need all the space I can get. I was pretty pumped when I found one at a good price – with free shipping, no less. Of course, the site didn’t say whether it came with toner or not so of course I went ahead and bought some of that from a different site that offered free shipping. About a week or so later I got an e-mail from the first company letting me know that they oversold the printer and would have to cancel my order.

I scrambled to find another site that sold the printer and was happy to find it. They sent the printer and within a week or so I got it and was pretty excited to set it up. Problems immediately arose as the status light wouldn’t change from red. After some investigation I found out that the printer was supposed to have a toner waste container. Of course, the printer did not have one.

I went online and bought one and then e-mailed the company that sold me the printer to ask if it was normal to send the printer without a toner waste container. They said they would send one to me immediately. In the meanwhile, a toner waste container arrived and I put it in and set everything up for my first print job.

Despite everything being properly set up, the first printout came out covered in white lines. This was certainly not how I thought a color laser printer should print. I tried everything in my power to try to get it to print a nice clean proper image but time after time it created images that were covered with white stripes. I again e-mailed the company to ask them for their advice and they suggested sending it back and getting a replacement.

The printer is sitting in a box mostly filled with biodegradable peanuts (they dissolve in water!) waiting for the UPS delivery person to come and pick it up. Hopefully when they send back a printer it will actually print images properly. Otherwise I may just have to go back to chiseling images in stone. Of course, that wouldn’t exactly make for a pretty one inch button.