There is nothing that has given me more trouble since the dawn of technology than printers. I even have a collection of printers that defy every troubleshooting tip I’ve read. And for most of the printers I’ve given up on, I even have a few ink cartridges (some of them unopened) that don’t fit anything, but I put them away just in case. And I suspect that I’m not the only one suffering from revenge of the bubble jets.

Yesterday I visited my octogenarian mother who said rather apologetically, “can you look at my printer?” She asked apologetically, because it seems like about every other time I visit her something’s wrong with the printer. None of her other peripherals give her a moment’s problem – but the printer (actually all 3 that she’s had) periodically goes into a snit and has to be cajoled, or even re-installed, in order to perform its task of simply printing the job sent to it. Lately this printer has been displaying a great deal of terrible twos temperament, in keeping with its age. Well, after doing everything I could think of (and cleaning out the print queue list of documents the poor lady has sent to it multiple times) I managed to print out one test page, by gently tugging on the paper as it came through. The HP tech support site confirmed my fears – that the feeder-thingamabobs are worn, and the printer is fulfilling its planned obsolescence. As I promised Mom that I’ll bring her a new printer next time I come, she confessed that she has just bought new ink and could I please try to find a printer that uses the same ink (since she’s lost the receipt) – not potentially likely, I suspect.

I’ve gone through countless printers in my home office. The super-deluxe Epson printer-scanner-FAX-no-it-doesn’t-make-coffee on my desk, bought to save space, lost its ability to receive a print job mid-way through its first year. After hours of going through the phone support maze tech-support-guy-half-way-around-the-world and I decided the only thing to do was package it up and mail if off – not likely, or even prudent. So, I made my way to Best Buy on the corner and bought a cheap Canon-which-does-just-fine to use until some miracle lightning bolt might make the scanner-FAX-but-doesn’t-print wake up. Hasn’t happened, and now I have 2 devices where there used to be one which replaced 3.

While I was grousing about this recently to millennial niece, she said to me straight-faced, “Did you try shaking it?” Seems that when she had a problem with her printer, and called the manufacturer tech support, they told her to unplug it, hold it upside down, and shake it —- and it worked! Go figure, but no, it didn’t work for me.