Monday, February 27, 2012

How my printer exposed my whiny inner consumerist

So for the last 6 months my printer hasn't been working correctly. It started with a few paper jams, and evolved to a full-blown printer rebellion. I would patiently manually feed each sheet into the printer, one at a time. This would work about 50% of the time at the beginning..then 25%, more recently it hasn't been working much at all. If I could count the number of minutes, even HOURS that I have spent manually feeding this printer, coaxing it, begging it , hitting it, turning it on and off...

There is only one thing I hate more than wasting money and that's wasting time so I finally caved. It was time for a new printer. I only use laser printers because I print A LOT of coupons:) and the ink is much more affordable, and it's so much faster. The search began. For months I have been scouring the internet for a good deal, reading reviews, and planning for my new printer.

The "saver" in me wouldn't spend more than $50 and that was a pretty unreasonable price point. So I waited. Finally, today, after countless fights with my printer and fruitless searches for an affordable replacement. I decided to jump. I would buy one TODAY. After all, I was worth it. I began looking at refurbished ones on ebay and decided I would have to spend $70 to get what I wanted. Oh well. I NEEDED it. Too bad if it didn't fit in the budget. I HAD to have it. Right?

Suddenly I heard my whiny inner voice saying these things. I was struck with the hilarity of it. Did I really NEED a wireless laser printer? Or could I use a cheap inkjet one stored in my basement? Did I really have to have a great one? Did I really HAVE to have one at all? I suddenly realized that I was once again caught in the trap of consumerism.

The entire world of media is programmed to make us believe we need more, we want more, we DESERVE more. I try to avoid it, but sometimes it catches me. Did I NEED this $70 printer or did I WANT one?

I knew the answer. I reluctantly closed my ebay search window, and did something that for some reason I had never thought to do. I googled how to fix my old printer. Wouldn't you know it, tons of people had had the same problem. I read through tons of potential fixes involving taking apart all the parts and sanding pieces, replacing rubber heads, bending brackets...I tried the ones I could figure out and skipped the rest. Nope still not working. Finally, frustrated both at my lack of "handywoman" ness and my still broken printer, I stumbled across one more. "I just washed the little rubber foot, and it worked great."

I couldn't decide if i was hopeful that this would work or angry that it could be so simple. Sure enough, one drop of dawn and one paper towel later, my printer is working like a dream. If only instead of focusing on the problem and how frustrated it made me, wasting the hours struggling through it, cursing it until I was blue in the face, I had spent that time on finding a solution. Yep-there's a life lesson here methinks.

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