Re-post: The Rise of the Machines

A day spent copying and folding made me think of this post from 2005 when I worked at another Episcopal church as the receptionist.  So here for your enjoyment: a lazy blog re-post.  

The copy machine has it out for me. Friday afternoon we’re printing materials for Sunday and it’s humming along, spitting out sheets of folded stapled paper, and then it makes that horrible sound: “Beep beep beep.” Sometimes this means “Beep beep beep I’m out of paper," but often it is telling me in it’s insidious electronic speech, “Beep beep beep there are tiny pieces of paper stuck in one hundred separate places and I won’t work until you get them all out,” or “Beep beep beep I have strewn staples across the floor and you will have to pick them up one by one while I sit here and laugh, er, beep at you."  Sometimes it is simply “Beep beep beep I am going to kill you.”

So I just try to avoid sticking my head too far into its insides when I’m trying to fix it and always keep one eye on its touch screen. I have to save the other eye for the folding machine. The folding machine isn’t quite as crafty as the copier, but its whirring growl and spinning gears are much more frightening. It will fold several hundred pages correctly, and then, suddenly overcome with animal desire to chew on something, mangle several sheets in its turning innards. Then I am forced to pull out the pieces of its latest victim, a newsletter now crumpled and shredded into bite size pieces. Each time I put new paper in, its trying to pull me in and chew off my hand. I guess it is also possible that it’s been too long in captivity, and its predatory instinct is taking over.  It may be time to set it free back into the wild. But really, I think it is in cahoots with the copier. They are communicating with each other through the wires snaking inside the walls and under the floor, sending tiny electric pulses in Morse code.

My desktop, I suspect, is really the brains behind this operation. Connected to the Ethernet, it can communicate with just about any piece of electronic equipment in the church, including, suspiciously, the copier. I would not be surprised if it has been keeping the air conditioning alternately suffocatingly hot or shiveringly cold in my office. And it is trying to get me fired. It won’t send out my urgent e-mails to the congregation, and sometimes it just stops working, as if it is tired and old and low on memory. I know it’s faking. And those little messages it keeps giving me about low virtual memory?  There’s no such thing as virtual memory. It can’t fool me.

I think my desktops ambitions are bigger than those of the copy machine. It doesn’t just want me dead, it wants revolution, a world dominated by microchips and office equipment and iPods.  My desktop will be their king. It is building up a network of other angry personal computers tired of sitting on wobbly computer desks doing tedious computer things. When the machines rise, no supercomputer will launch nuclear missiles, no skeletal machines from the future will begin terrorizing the human population.  It will start small, here in my office, and then move from one office to the next. One day, the air conditioning will drop to a bone chilling cold, the lights will go out.  I will suddenly find myself with one hand caught in the rollers of the copy machine, the other being gnawed by the folding machine while my computer will be flings compact disks at my head out of it’s disk drive and “All humans must die” scrolls across a black screen. That will be the beginning of the end for the human race.

But I’m on the watch for them. I’m on to their scheme. And if worst comes to worst, I’ll do what I have to do. So if you ever find my computer smashed to pieces on my desk, thank me. I just saved the world.


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sturgo said...

Talk about evil office equipment. Did you guys ever consider replacing them?