I Will Kill a Man Over Printer Etiquette
There are a few areas of the office that require a certain level of common courtesy. At least that is, if you don’t wanna get punched in the face. You don’t take other people’s food in the kitchen. You use air freshener in the bathroom when the situation demands it. You don’t spit in the water cooler. These are all pretty standard tacit rules. But when it comes to shared equipment like say, the printer, people seem to forget all about being polite.
Printer behavior is one of the most unsung areas of office etiquette. We never cover it anywhere in the handbook, like sexual harassment or a dress code. Nobody really even talks about it until you have an unfortunate printer encounter that leaves you cursing all the way back to your desk. I don’t know about you guys, but here are just a few reasons I’ve been ready to strangle a co-worker over printer decorum.
Using all the Paper
First of all, if you empty it re-fill it. It’s a simple concept. Didn’t your mom ever yell at you for not replacing an empty roll of toilet paper when you were a kid? I have to wonder, considering just how many times I’ve sent something to the printer, gone to collect it and found…nothing. Well nothing except that little screen on the printer telling me that the last guy who printed something never bothered to bend down, pick up a ream of paper and shove it in the appropriate tray. Yeah, it doesn’t take a lot for me to do it either, but that’s not the point. If you cleared us out of paper, you should be the one to re-stock it.
Killing the Ink
The same principle applies to toner and ink cartridges. If your document came out a light shade of gray it may work well enough for the un-authorized grocery list you printed out. But my client report shouldn’t come out looking like a 3rd grade ditto. Now, I get that the ink replacement process for the office printer may be a little more involved than your personal printer.
But if you don’t feel “properly trained” to replace the ink in our 300-pound, multi-function copier, tell someone who is. Seriously, if you have to walk over to I.T. and let someone know. DO IT. Stop pretending you didn’t notice that the toner is on its last legs. If I catch you doing it, I’ll pretend I didn’t notice your name on that leftover Chinese food.
While we’re on the subject, looking the other way and “forgetting” to mention a lack of supplies is just a dick move. There’s someone in the office that is responsible for keeping everything stocked, from paper clips, to coffee creamer. You know who it is, you know where to find them and for the life of me I can’t figure out why you didn’t bother to leave them a little post-it to say “Hey, we’re out of paper”. I know you’d damn well be all over the office manager if we were out of French Roast, but you can’t make an empty ink cartridge a priority? Thanks jerk.
Not Restoring Defaults
Hey, remember how you had to make 100 double-sided copies of that one document? Yeah, I do too. Because you never restored the defaults, and now I have 100 double-sided copies of my Time sheet. No, really, it’s cool. I like to have extras. It’s a simple concept people, if you change the defaults, for the love of god, put them back! Don’t leave the next poor printing schmuck to find out the hard way that your project required 150% zoom.
Leaving Your Docs on Tray
I know how easy it is to get distracted between hitting the “print” button and walking 15 steps to the printer. But is it unreasonable to expect you make your pick up within, say, an hour? The people who leave their ambiguous and anonymous docs sitting at the printer station for hours or days annoy the crap out of me.
First of all, if you can just neglect your print-out for that long, did you really need it in the first place? Because now I have to go parading around the office asking “Did you print this?” And I have real work to do; like complaining about the boss and taking a smoke break. Now you’ve interrupted my day because you like to let your printing jobs pile up. If you’re gonna print it, pick it up. Or I’m going to use it to make a paper mache piñata for the Christmas party.
Leaving a Jam
Ok, I love to file away office issues under the category of Not My Problem. But if you cause the jam, it IS your problem. But when you walk away from a red blinking light on the printer, you’re making it my problem. That is, if I’m unlucky enough to be the next one to try to print something. And I won’t even know there is a crisis until I walk over and find out. God forbid I needed something in a hurry. I’m not saying you need to turn into a Xerox technician, but could you, I dunno, TRY yanking the stuck paper out? Or hey, how about telling someone who can get it fixed before somebody else in the office gets screwed. All I’m saying is, if the printer is glowing red like an Amsterdam brothel or sounds like it’s trying to eat a cat, maybe there’s a problem. And MAYBE you should stop pretending you don’t notice it. Because if you don’t, MAYBE I’ll initiate a paper jam up your…laptop.
Office life is hard enough. We all spend at least half our time feeling like lobotomized veal, so how about a little courtesy, just as a change of pace. Recognize that the printer is something we all have to share, and learn to treat it that way. If you’re the troll who refuses to utilize basic printer etiquette, sooner later someone is going to figure out it’s you. And if it’s me who catches on, you better believe I have some creative uses for an empty ink cartridge that will be much more fun for me than you.