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Day 57-58: Did you turn it off and back on again?

“Cap’n,” my coworker said.

It was the tone of her voice. It was the tone, and the direction. Her voice was deadened in a specific way. All those versed in the ways of frustrated Users can recognize it. You see, the human voice sounds distinct when bouncing off of a frustrating computer and/or one of its peripherals.

“Cap’n, the printer’s broke,” my coworker said.

I was already by her side. She was fiddling with a receipt printer. These small gray boxes are like those UFOs from Batteries Not Included. But not the cool one. Or the burger one. The ornery one.


I’m not saying this printer runs away with silverware or steals appliances to procreate. I’m just saying these little mini-machine gun bunkers can be a pain in the neck.

You know what I asked her when I got to the printer? Guess.

“Did you turn it off and back on again?”

Coworker looked at me.

“I thought I did,” she said.

I opened the lid, checked the paper. There was no jam. I closed it. She clicked the power off and back on. No change.

“Well, here,” I said. I clicked the power off and started silent mouth-counting. One one-thousand. Two one-thousand. Three one-thousand.

“Oh, you have to give it a few seconds,” Coworker said. A prep cook was cutting a pizza next to us. Cap’n was still busy somewhere else.

I got to ten and powered it back on. The paper ticked up about two millimeters indicating it had received feed instructions. I tested the manual feed and it worked.

Then it printed. Boy, did it print. It printed with abandon. It printed with vehemence. It printed like Bi Sheng. Then it printed like Gutenberg.

The last of the queued receipts printed and life resumed. My full-time job indirectly improved the lives of my part-time coworkers.

Again, I was struck with the intangible patterns. Sometimes when something doesn’t work, we panic. We unplug it, then plug it back in. We press random spots and pull random levers. We mash the power button. Then, frustrated, we hand it off to someone we think might be able to handle it.

They take a few quiet seconds to look it over. They turn it off. They let it rest. They restore power, and it works.

Who do we hand our budgets to when they break? Who do we call when we lose our temper despite efforts to control it? Where do we “hand off” our elevated heart rate when our infant won’t stop crying and we don’t know why? Etc.

My answer to all of these will be different from yours. Some might be similar. I was reminded while fixing Pandora’s Printer that I need to turn things off and back on again sometimes. We all do. Find someone that will help. I’ve found Jesus to be a great help, because He sends other people. He sends my bro, Josh Olbricht. He sends my wife. He delivers me a picture of “Kitty Zane, Eva and the Sun” in the hands of that beautiful Princess.

Whoever those people are to you, the metaphorical printer-fixers… Keep those people nearby. And never hesitate to be that person for someone else. You’ll make more friends.

Here’s to another year of being:



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