It came to my attention today that I haven’t used a photocopier in about eight years – and in that time, the ubiquitous machines found in offices the world over have become a lot cleverer than they used to be.
I’ve made a zillion copies of our passports and visas on the scanner at home; I’ve photographed important documents with my phone; but because everything I do at work is on my trusty Mac, I’ve never had to photocopy anything. I wasn’t even sure where the office copier was.
Today, I found myself wondering past water coolers and filing cabinets looking for the large white Xerox machine I was pretty sure still existed. I came across it outside the meeting room, and lifted the lid, intending to quickly copy something for my son’s homework.
That’s when I saw the touchscreen, offering me about 30 different options with icons I didn’t understand. It seemed to want to email my page, or at least copy it onto a server thousands of miles away. But, really, all I wanted was a paper copy.
I jabbed at the green button. The machine juddered to life, and made a copying-like noise. But it spat nothing out.
I pressed the button again. More whirring, but still nothing.
I peered at the touchscreen and changed a few settings. Colour: Yes. A4 paper: Yes. Scale: 100%. 4D (just joking!). Where on earth was it emailing my son’s homework to? Could I possibly be circulating it to the entire company? How hard could this be?
More difficult than I’d thought, it seemed. And perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised: after all, it was announced recently that Dubai wants to become one of the most connected Smart Cities in the world by 2020. It’s even been revealed that drones (remote-controlled quadcopters) are to be used to deliver official paperwork.
After trying to locate from which end of this paperless copier / fax / scanner / drone command centre / tea maker (whatever it was) the whirring noise was coming from, I furtively looked around to see if there was anyone (kind) I could ask. I was in the sales department, though, surrounded by people who’d sell their grandmother to book an ad. Then, of course, a small queue formed behind me.
The pressure to duplicate my page in front of everyone was too much, and I admitted to the lady next in line that I was clueless.
Within seconds, she’d elicited the same noise, and directed me to a tray dovetailed neatly into the front of the machine.
Where there were about 30 copies of my son’s homework – more than enough for the whole class. I swear older, clunkier photocopiers used to churn out copies to a side tray, didn’t they? Far too smart for me, these new digital copiers.