It takes a licking and keeps on. . .

. . . printing!

I think it all came about because I had volunteered to help our pastor in the church office, and one of the things she wanted us to tackle was filing. . . and purging files. . . and cleaning out filing cabinets.  That got me thinking about our own filing cabinet, which, of course, I had already thought about with respect to Control D.  So a week or so ago, I started tackling the filing cabinet, one bulging hanging folder at a time.

Our filing cabinet is actually not a filing cabinet.  It’s really a storage cabinet for papers and a wide variety of other things that can be coerced into fitting in an eight and-a-half by eleven file folder.

Now, I learned some interesting facts about filing from Pastor Barb.  For one thing, some people (or churches) files things alphabetically, instead of topically.  Very interesting.  And then, for example, they have a bunch of files for 2012 (Youth Ministry 2012, Utilities 2012, Benevolence 2012, etc.), and at the end of 2012, they make new files (Youth Ministry 2013, Utilities 2013, Benevolence 2013, etc.), pull the 2012 files OUT of the filing cabinet, and store them in a bankers box.  This means that the filing cabinet never fully fills up!  What a concept.

Our “filing” cabinet, on the other hand, is thoroughly jammed packed with valuable papers that are up to fifteen years old.  This makes the drawers very, very, very heavy, and in certain situations – including the one caused by the oven – that can be problematic.

For a couple months, I think since the Christmas baking season, I have noticed that things don’t seem to get baked as well or as quickly as they should.  The other frustration is that when the oven is already on and running at, say, 350 degrees, and I turn it up to 400 degrees, there’s no way to know if or when it achieves the higher temp.  My suspicion that the oven is actually cooler than it claims to be has been bothering me a lot, so I bought an over thermometer and hung it in there.

Today, I needed to bake a tray of chicken breasts at 375 for 50 minutes.  I pre-heated the oven to 375, but before inserting the chicken, I looked at the thermometer, which clearly read 325.  Ah ha!!!  Suspicion proven!  So I turned the oven up to 400 and waited ten minutes more.  The thermometer said 350.  Hmmmm.  I really needed to get the chicken going, so I put it in and turned the oven up to 425.  Throughout the hour it took to bake the chicken, the thermometer registered 350, but when I took the chicken out and left the oven on (still set at 425), after another 15 minutes it was at 375.  Finally.

My lightning fast mind figured out that we have a problem with the oven; probably with its thermostat.  Maybe a service call would be in order, and that would clearly fall into the jurisdiction of the husband.  It’s a fairly new oven.  I couldn’t remember when we bought it, but I thought it was only a year or so ago, so maybe it would still be under warranty.  This called for the owner’s manual, and that little gem would surely be located in THE FILING CABINET!

So I dug through the filing cabinet and found the owner’s manual.  I read the  trouble-shooting section which referred me to another section involving the re-setting of calibration, and although that section was written in standard English, I was not able to clearly understand what to do to fix the problem.  It would have to wait till Scott got home, but at least I had duly done my research.

The digging through the file cabinet for the owner’s manual motivated me to re-organize those manuals (of which there are MANY), and neatly re-file them in newly labeled files.  They wouldn’t readily fit back in the top drawer where I had found them, but a few days ago, I had cleared out a good nine inches of linear space in the middle drawer, and I decided that for the time being – at least until I finished culling the entire cabinet and was able to put things where they most made sense (ahem, realizing that this could take decades) – it would be okay to have the owner’s manuals in the middle drawer.

I had, of course, first tried to put them in the top drawer, and it was open when I then opened the middle drawer to actually file them.  And that, Dear Reader, was my mistake.

You know how, in every family, there are certain unspoken rules?  Things that everyone knows good and well, but which are not written down or regularly communicated simply because they are so darned obvious?  I’m thinking of things like pressing down the back left corner of the washing machine lid to make it run, squeezing the extra water out of the lunch meat when you open a new package, not playing the piano when Dad’s on a conference call, never bidding six with just four points; stuff like that.  Well, another unspoken and unwritten rule is the one I carelessly violated:  never open two file drawers at the same time.

Having two files drawers open at one time might be uneventful if the two open drawers are lightly loaded, but if the middle drawer is 2/3 full and the top drawer is significantly more than totally full, gravity can play some very nasty tricks.  And then, if there happens to be a printer/copier/fax machine sitting on top of the file cabinet, well. . . let’s just say that I saw what was happening, realized there was nothing I could safely do to prevent it, screamed, “Help!  Oh, No!  Oh, dang it!” and watched it all fall.

The corner of the filing cabinet caught and ripped my jeans on the way down, and I did kind of sort of catch portions of the damage at about a 45 degree angle.  By then, Andrew had heard my screams and had come up.  He was glad I was okay, but for both of us, the saddest part was the printer.  It was somehow still plugged in, but it was in pieces.  The paper tray and the cover for the paper tray had gone in two different directions.  The whole top section that you lift when you want to make a copy was off in another place.  There was a cable of some kind (not connected to anything) sticking out of the top/back of the printer.  Some black plastic was cracked, but we don’t really want to think about that.

While I balanced the incredibly heavy file cabinet at its 45 degree angle, Andrew cleaned out a lot of junk under and behind it.  Then he balanced it while I unsnaked wires and collected printer pieces.  I put the shrapnel on Scott’s desk; all the while thinking thoughts like, “Boy, Scott is going to be pretty unhappy about this,” and “Looks like I’m going to be buying a new printer – maybe today.  Ugh.  I wonder what they cost.”

With much grunting, we heaved the beast back into an upright position and Andrew did a masterful job of re-assembling the (admittedly forlorn looking) printer.  It was powered off at some point in the process, and once it came back up, I wondered aloud whether it might ever print again.  I was afraid to know the answer, but the question could not be avoided.  I tried to print a document from Scott’s computer and that was a decided no go.  Then I tried from mine, with the same result.  Sigh.  Tech maven that I am, I then went into the printer properties and tried to figure out what was up, but all I could discern was that it would not print from my computer because my computer thought it didn’t exist.  To go any deeper into settings and configuration would have been foolhardy and maximally frustrating for me, so I decided to just wait and let Scott see if he could convince my computer that there really was a powered-up printer sitting eagerly on the filing cabinet.

Before calling it a day (so to speak), I did decide to take one more risk.  I wanted to find out if it was not printing because my computer failed to recognize its existence or because the fall had damaged its print mechanism.  I pulled out an owner’s manual – I had a lot of those handy at the time – placed it on the glass, and told the printer to make a copy of the cover.  Can you believe it?  That obedient little printer-that-could immediately produced a perfect copy!  Yee hah!  There was hope!

And indeed, that evening, Scott found that there was a cable disconnected.  In truth, there was a veritable collection of disconnected cables, in two colors (red and black), and wearing a variety of finer plugs (both male and female), but when he re-connected a certain one, my computer decided it would once again play nicely with the printer, and we have been up and running ever since.  Whew!

If you, too, would like to own a printer that you can drop on the floor from three feet, re-assemble, and still expect to print just fine, consider buying an HP Officejet Pro 8500A.  It’s so dependable that it will print even with some cracked plastic and crooked gaps.  (Ummm. . . we’re not going to mention those minor details to Scott, OK?)

I think I’m going to hang a sign on the file cabinet that says, “Open 2+ Drawers at Your Own Risk.”

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