• Pushing all the wrong buttons

    By Cameron Douglas, Guest Snarker

    The huge copy machine sits near the front door of our newspaper office; a device of imposing physical size that could have been R2-D2’s bodyguard. We’ll call him MAX-1000. A proud machine that can make copies 87 different ways.
    I just have no idea how to make him do it. All my attempts to interact with MAX-1000 end with desperate pleas to my editor for assistance. After all, it’s her machine. The two of them go way back. I think they rode together in a holy crusade against the country of Xeroxia. She brought the mighty machine into the office to fill a need in the community, nobly making copies for anyone walking in the door for a tiny fee. I forget how much.
    It’s not that I don’t want to understand MAX-1000. There just isn’t time. In the busy world of journalism, it’s all we can do to maintain cordial relationships with our desktop computers, which, on occasion, plot with MAX-1000 in the dead of night to commit joint rebellions the next day.
    So when the demure lady walked in the other day asking how she could make copies, I panicked. Her Editorness was out of the office and it would be up to me. OK, I reasoned, I’m a grown man, there are buttons I can push, eventually something’s gotta happen. Unfortunately, the only buttons I pushed belonged to the demure lady.

    “How does it work with the copy machine?” she asked.
    “How many copies do you need?” The question drew a blank stare. So I elaborated: “One, ten, a hundred?”
    “Oh, I don’t need that many,” she replied. “Why, does it make a difference?” 
    It didn’t seem to be going well. I decided if I stood closer, we could communicate better. Big mistake. She recoiled as if King Kong were reaching his massive hand out to grab her up like Faye Wray. My efforts to be in command of the situation had gone awry. Was I being pushy? Was it my intensity, racing the clock against deadline? Was it MAX-1000’s forbidding stature? Or did she have something to hide in that shopping bag full of papers?
    “How much are the copies?” the lady asked.

    I didn’t know; so I did a song-and-dance, hoping MAX-1000’s long-time friend would return and save the day. “It depends,” I said. “Why don’t you show me what you have and we’ll figure it out.”  
    “Oh, never mind,” she snapped. She slammed the bag shut and started for the door. I got the feeling she didn’t want me to see the contents of the bag. My reporter’s mind wondered just exactly what she might be toting around in there. Secret plans to overthrow Pacific Grove? Torrid letters from some deliciously illicit love affair? Her life’s collection of grocery lists? 
    On her way out, she called over her shoulder, “You’re a little condescending, you know.”
    Condescending? My feelings were hurt. I thought I was at least overbearing. 
    MAX-1000 just sneered at me.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on February 10, 2011

    Topics: Cameron Douglas, Snarkin' With Marge


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