Monday, March 31, 2003
Deep in the Heart of Texas (The State)
by Stephanie Anderson
I have stepped up the art of administering systems. While I never thought I would be able to accomplish the main goals of the job, this week I achieved the miraculous. I spent two days with one goal: to print. It sounds like a simple task, especially when everyone else in the office, working on computers that I configured, is printing with ease. But no matter how many times or ways I try to send my batch of fifty letters to the printer, nothing comes out. I am losing a signal somewhere between the computer saying it is printing, and the printer who denies, denies, denies.
This elusive signal remained ambiguous for 2 days, and then the phone rang.
"Excuse me, ma'am. Are you trying to print something?" drawls the voice on the other end.
"Well, yeah, actually, who's this?"
"My name is Rudy Rodriguez. I am in San Diego, Texas. Your letters are printing on my printer." ???
I say nothing because I cannot form words and simultaneously accomplish the look of awe, frustration, and confusion I am delivering to the receiver.
"Ma'am? Could you stop printing? We've gotten at least 50 pages already, and I don't think you can use these letters on our stationary."
"OK. Yeah. I'll figure it out. I'm sorry, I guess?"
Bewildered, I hang up the phone and turn to my coworkers. "Guess where that document is printing," I say hesitantly. In response to their feigned half-interest, I announce, "Texas."
"The State?" is their unison, quizzical response.
Yup, the state of Texas. I thought that the fascinating part of the problem was that the computer is mysteriously whisking off my orders to a completely different office and executing them on a completely different printer. But, my co-workers seem to be hung up on the fact that in 1845 Texas joined the union.
Next, I email a techie to try to get some insight towards correcting this interstate error. "Hi. I don't know if you can help me, but my computer is printing in Texas."
Seconds later, my clever new mail noise alerts me to his response: "The state?"
That's right. Only shortly after parting ways with Mexico, Texas became a state. Now I am printing there, on a brother printer, even though my impressive computer claims to be printing on a Hewlett Packard.
Showing a true lack of professional decorum, I picked up my keyboard to launch it at the next person who questions Texas' statehood. In my fury, all I manage to do is slice my finger on a loose piece of plastic.
Hours later, allowing time for everyone to digest this lesson in national history and geography, a voice on the telephone is able to bring my computer back to participate in the day's scheduled activities here in Washington. The District.
That evening, after coming home and allowing my frustrations melt away into reruns of 7th Heaven, I call a friend from whom I can expect empathy for my ridiculous day. I carefully dial an intelligent girl who grew up in the Lone Star State. She would certainly not ask any inane questions about location. I wove her my tale. She paused and then clarified: "So you printed in Texas, ____ _____?" You may guess at what those last two words were. When you figure it out, call the poor girl and explain why that was the point at which I hung up.