Monday, January 30, 2012


I have a networked printer in my office at work. That means that anybody on the computer network can, in principle, submit something to this printer and it will dutifully hum and whir for a few moments before rolling out the freshly inked paper to its output tray. However, this printer is my own personal property and nobody knows that it exists. Thus it never should respond to the commands of anyone but me. In all of its years of existence, it has only gone about its work for me.

The other morning I was hard at work in my office. Toiling away well before the sun even thought about poking its head about the horizon. Apart from one or two service vehicles, mine was the only car in the parking lot. Suddenly my printer woke itself from its sleep mode, hummed to life, and started to process a print job. Curious, as I had not submitted anything to its queue. A single page turned out and I went over and picked up the sheet. In the upper left corner of the page, one word appeared, all in capital letters, HELP.

A plaintive cry for assistance from beyond? A lonely morning Beatles fan? I could not say. I thought it best to quickly reach over and toggle the power switch. One can never be too careful with the possibilities that abound when facing possible otherworldly fans of 1960s music.