The Xerox Room – Office Life

In my 25 Things entry, I mentioned how the movie Nine to Five had a great influence on my views of office culture and this past week or so, I’ve noticed a recent parallel. We’re well past the days of the copier being just a copier, it’s everyone’s networked printer too, but what hasn’t changed is that when it breaks down or freaks out, most of my co-workers fare no better than Judy Bernly:

This scene remains one of my favorite from the film and that line, “Just watch this panel, the machine will tell you just what to do,” is still true of Xerox.

Our copier/printer will tell you exactly what needs doing should a paper jam or similar occur. That doesn’t keep my co-workers from not only staring at the machine, but lingering in the room until someone comes along that’s brave enough to mess with it. So when someone–often me–comes along to sort out what’s wrong (by following the on-screen directions) I’ve got an audience. One day I was fortunate enough to see someone’s genius repair method of kicking the machine. Brilliant!

The only other weird thing about our copy room is the theme of abandonment. It’s also our pantry, so there’s the fridge and coffee machines, toasters, the microwave, etc. At first I thought it was strange that people would send jobs to the printer and leave them there… for days. And not just work-related stuff, but personal things: e-mails, financial statements, map directions, church fliers, job offers… many of these things with their names or e-mail addresses on them. It then occurred to me that it was only natural considering the microwave and fridge suffer from the same problem. There are days that you can’t even open the refrigerator without getting ill and the question, “Do you know whose food this is?” is a constant.

Also a constant following a clean-up, “Who threw away my…?” Ah, office life. :mrgreen:

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11 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    Hey, if it weren’t for people not knowing how to fix the copier, I wouldn’t have a job 😛

  2. Esprix says:

    Good god, I’m *the* go-to guy for technical problems in our building. Seriously. And our copier is PATHETICALLY user friendly – almost as consdescending as a Mac, even! – including ON-SCREEN DIAGRAMS of where jams and things are. And yet, inevitably… “Can you help me with the copier?” Bah. BAH.

    Then again, it makes me feel important in my own little technological fiefdom. 😀

    latest entry: *yawn*

  3. Kyle says:

    Ah, films – they give us referents for modern life. My office life referent is “Office Space”; my retail life referent is “Clerks”; and my real world referent is “The Big Liebowski”.

    latest entry: change

  4. lacochran says:

    I love how movies from the 60s through the 80s always depict computers as going berserk, complete with spitting out results and mondo flashing lights. 😆

    latest entry: "Chewy, chewy" –The Ohio Express

  5. Jim Lee says:

    My Xerox (9400 – 9500) Tech was a Tech specialist who received a forwarded call from another Tech in Los Angeles (I ran the Copy Center for a Bank in Milwaukee, WI). It was the Tech who was setting up a Xerox 9400 on a set for “9 to 5” at 20th Century-Fox Studios. That was in 1979, the movie came out in 1980. Many of the knobs and dials on that 9400 were Pasted-on. The recording engineers at the studio added the sound effects to make the copier “more entertaining” and the lights flashing on the control panel were controlled by a studio technician along with a Xerox 9400 Tech. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda (plus the set designer who placed colored paper, toner boxes and even a Xerox 940 Wire-Stapler!) did an excellent job of making that scene in the film look very, very real!

  6. Jim Lee says:

    I would like to clarify something pertaining to my first comment on here. I fully realize that there were many Tech specialists in the Southern CA. area, so, I do not know why a Tech in Los Angeles, doing an “install” at 20th Century-Fox studios would have his call forwarded to a Tech Specialist in Milwaukee, WI. I never could figure that one out, but it did happen!

  1. February 24, 2015

    […] that. Suddenly, one machine could quickly, easily, and neatly make a copy. Although, watching the scene in the movie 9 to 5 in which Jane Fonda’s character fights with the copy machine suggests […]

  2. June 9, 2016

    […] That job exposed me to technology in the form of massive Xerox machines; think Jane Fonda in “9 to 5” (watch the embedded video). At the same firm I later worked on an Apple II+ using VisiCalc […]

  3. June 26, 2016

    […] That job exposed me to technology in the form of massive Xerox machines; think Jane Fonda in “9 to 5” (watch the embedded video). At the same firm I later worked on an Apple II+ using VisiCalc […]

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