Saturday, October 09, 2004

Copy Machine from Hell

Let me first say that electrical objects in my office have a tendency to act up for me and no one else. Especially the copy machine. It has never once gone through a run for me without jamming. Does it jam for others? No, not really.
Last Friday, I was working late, alone in the office, and making my usual copies of the newspaper layouts to take home to proofread. Miraculously, there was no paper jam, but I did hear a strange popping sound, and smelled electrical smoke. I noticed that the area around the copier plug was blackened, so I unplugged it, left a note not to plug it in, and called my boss to explain. He said he'd have it checked.

Monday morning, the copier worked fine, no sparks or smells, so I was teased mercilessly the whole week about my copier paranoia. Did the copier have any more issues during business hours for the whole week? Umm, no.
Last night, I again was working late. A co-worker came in after shooting football pics, just as I was getting ready to make my layout copies. I joked that I was glad he was there to witness the copier freaking out on me. He laughed, until the first pop rang through the office. I glanced warily over at the plug and saw a flame shoot out. "George, oh my God, the copier is actually on fire!" I shouted. Another pop echoed through the building. This time, not only did the flame shoot out of the plug, it stayed out, and grew larger. I had one of those moments where you don't know what to do, so I shifted from foot to foot, anxiously, trying to formulate a plan to take down the flaming copy machine from hell. I turned off the copy machine, grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the wall. The vicious whipping of the cord through the air extinguished the flames. I dropped the cord and surveyed the damage. Foul-smelling electric smoke and the scent of charred plastic filled the office.

George was now standing beside me. The look on his face was sheer amazement. I'm sure he was wondering how the copy machine could hate me so much that it actually burst into flames. I told him I was glad he saw that so he could tell others it was true. He said, "Well, even if they didn't believe you, the char marks on the wall pretty much corroborate your story." He was right. Black streaks snaked up the wall and over the formerly cream-colored speaker plug that was in the top spot on that outlet. The bottom outlet hole, previously occupied by the copier, was all melty and weird-looking.

After more notes and another call to the boss, I'm banned from using the copy machine at work, especially after hours. I think I'm cool with that.
Admittedly, I did enjoy springing this story on my husband and sister-in-law when I got home on Friday night. I often use the phrase "putting out the major fires" when describing the tasks I have to finish before leaving the office. Imagine their surprise when my story involved actual flames!

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