Lim: Machines

LAST year, I bought a new laser printer. My old one was still working. But you know how companies stop producing consumables for old models so consumers are compelled to buy new ones? This was the fate of my old printer—killed by corporate planned obsolescence.

But I have a problem with machines. They intimidate me. I’d rather jump off a cliff than assemble or install a machine. So I stall and use an old ink jet printer in the meantime.

A month ago, I finally decide to unbox my new printer. As soon as I see it, however, I realize it’s more sophisticated than I thought. I am overwhelmed by the sight of all its accessories. Still, I bravely open the literature. As soon as I see three pages of diagrams, however, my knees give way and my brain stops functioning immediately.

My brain has problems processing pictograms so that I have to stare long and hard at those male/female icons outside of restrooms all over the world so I can enter the right room. Diagrams just slay me. I cannot handle the stress. I decide to abort the operation.

Whenever I am faced with a machine I need to analyze, assemble or install, my sisters always mockingly ask, “You need a man?” I am the girl, after all, who professes to not need a man for anything—well, except to assemble and install a machine and of course, to analyze diagrams.

Two days ago, I decide to just do it. Why? Well, it’s been four months since I bought the machine and well…no man has magically appeared to assemble it.

I decide to ignore the diagrams and just wing it. After several futile attempts to just put the machine on, however, I start to go into panic mode. Is it a factory defect? Oh my God! I wonder how long the warranty is.

I give in to my fears. I call a man. The technician and I discuss the problem extensively. Could it be the outlets? Could it be a factory defect? We discuss a plethora of possibilities. He’s nice to me. He tells me to send it to him for checking.

The clouds lift. Maybe, I need a man after all—but one with a different skills set than me—you know, one who can analyze, assemble and install a machine successfully without hyperventilating?

An hour later, I hear from the technician. “There is no problem with your printer, Ma-am.” I am so relieved to hear this. “Was it the cord? Did I forget to remove something?” “Ma-am, did you see that white thing on the right side of the screen?” “Oh yes—the one sticking out? What was that? Was that something I should have removed?”

“That was the Power button, Ma-am. After plugging the printer into the outlet, just press that button and the machine will turn on.”

Do you believe me now when I tell you that when I am faced with the task of getting a machine up and running, my brain stops functioning? Do I need a man, after all? Find out next week.
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