At school we were talking about how things are going and what we expect next year. Things aren't going well and aren't likely to get better. The school feels overcrowded, the staff is stretched too thin, and next year will probably be worse.
Right after that talk I mentioned the copier wasn't working well and we should call for repair. My colleague made the call. We went back to work without much in the way of expectations.
Not an hour later a guy was at the front door and we let him in. "Hey, it's the copier guy!" my colleague said. I may have cheered. He said, "I don't usually get this kind of enthusiasm" and smiled. We said it was just a surprise to see him so soon after we had called. "It's only been an hour," my colleague said as if such things were beyond belief. The copier guy shrugged, gave a confused look, and said like it was a question, "that's my job?" I thought about that for a second. His job is to respond quickly to our problem? Go figure.
I showed him my latest copies, a grey smudge along the middle of the page obscured a line of text. He nodded and named the problem. Something thermal. "I just got to run out to my car," he said. I went back to my classroom to do a few things. I wrote up a new sheet for one of my classes, printed it and then went back to the office to see how the copier was coming along. The copier guy had gone. I put my page into the feeder, tapped in the number of copies I needed, and pushed the green button. The copies were perfect. I was holding them in my hands, staring and smiling, when my colleague came upon me.
I said, "will you look at that? The copier is fixed." My colleague, looking surprised, asked, "Is he gone already?" We looked at the copies. Not a smudge anywhere. Clean, clear text. I said, "isn't that something?"
"Isn't what something?" my colleague asked.
"We had a problem, called someone, they appeared in no time, and, get this, they fixed it." I smiled. I laughed a little. The whole thing struck me as almost too funny. "We asked and someone responded by fixing it," I said.
"Instead of doing nothing?"
We both laughed at that, but it wasn't as joyous so much as rueful now. We've been calling about problems much more important than the copier. We've done everything but send up flares or flash the Bat Signal. Yet the problems continue, the smudges growing larger and obscuring everything we do. We've just about given up on asking for any help or expecting things to get any better.
"Think the copier guy can fix the rest of this place?" I asked.
My colleague didn't think so and left the office. Standing alone there next to the fixed copier I looked up at the clock. "Quitting time," I said and walked away.