As a product of Generation Y, one might expect that I would be capable when it comes to using basic technology. In truth, I would in no way state that I have mastered the high tech world – I once accidentally bought a computer monitor with the actual intention of buying a TV. However, I am not completely incompetent in this area either: I can work a phone, computer and tablet quite well, I know what an HDMI cable is, and, thanks to the advice from the IT Crowd, I am fully adept in the art of turning things off and on again. Yet, when it comes to trying to print anything from the LSE library, I am completely and utterly useless.
Here’s how the events usually play out.
In a similar vein to Frodo from the Lord of the Rings, I make the brave decision to journey through the library in search of a computer. In a moment of luck, I spot a free seat with the blue computer screen calling at me like the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. I walk over, log in and wait. It is at this point that I have found myself undergoing an emotional process: the five stages of using an LSE library printer.
The first stage of this is anticipation. This is the feeling of expectation combined with a strong element of fear. You have found the articles that you need to print. You have checked and double checked that they are correct. Then you make the all-important move: File, Print. The icon on the bottom left hand corner indicates that there is a document pending to be printed. Your heart skips a beat. Could it have worked? Was it really that simple? Memories of the past creep up on you: you remember that this has happened before and dread consumes you as you recount these events. You walk down to the printer, like Simba returning to Pride Rock. This is it.
You then move on to the second stage in this emotional process: annoyance and frustration. You have reached the printer, amazed that there is no queue. You log in for the second time that day, holding your breath to see whether you have defied your previous history. Your login has not worked so you try this three or four times until your fate eventually appears on the screen: No items waiting to be printed. You sigh: not this again. Irritation overcomes you and you are beginning to become impatient of this recurrence.
Embarrassment. This is the third stage. You have now attempted to print your documents more than once and things are starting to become a little uncomfortable. You see the stares of your fellow students, their gaze following your every move. Looks of pity, which assume your incompetence with devices of the 21st century. Knowing nods, which acknowledge your current disposition as one that they have once experienced too. You could have even sworn you heard someone whisper, “Not another one.” Regardless, you continue with your task – it is too late to back out now.
The fourth stage overwhelms you before you have time to realise: you are now consumed by pure, unadulterated anger. This contains the momentum of the previous few stages pent up from the constant failure to achieve your desired goal. It is at this point that you can feel a complete loss of control of your emotions, which can rapidly lead to crying, violence (towards the printer) or just giving up.
Unfortunately, after all you have been through, you may not have reached the final stage yet. This is the eventual feeling of success, which can be delayed by hours, weeks or even terms. Success comes when you finally achieve your aim: you manage to print your documents and you are ready to leave the library. You have won the lottery, hit the jackpot, found a golden ticket! Although, realistically, this may feel more like surviving the sinking of The Titanic.
However, there is an alternative to this final stage, or a common prerequisite: regret. I have always thought that the things in life you regret the most are not the things you do, but the things you don’t do. However, printing has questioned this fundamental belief of mine. I regret trying. I regret trying again. And I regret starting this process the next day, attempting to put my struggles behind me. Edith Piaf, when it comes to printing, you are wrong.
Needless to say, I have learnt a lot from these unusually traumatic experiences. I am typically not one to give advice but here are some suggestions that I can offer. Firstly, check your LSE wallet before you begin this process. I am embarrassed by the amount of times I have become frustrated with the printer for not working, only to realise that it actually my brain which was jammed instead. Secondly, check there is paper in the printer before you begin. Unfortunately, we do not live in the world of Harry Potter where things replenish themselves. And even if we did, magic would just confuse us Muggles types anyway. Finally, check that you’ve sent the documents to the printer before you leave your computer. A bad workman always blames his tools. It is true that computers are not infallible but neither are we.
Mark Twain once said: “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” We do make mistakes and, while the sensible response to this situation may be to steer clear, instead try and ignore your former failures and have faith that printing is possible. And if at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try and try again.