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Monumental By: Cheryl Hughes

Recently, I bought a printer, one that I convinced myself I had to have.  It wasn’t expensive—far from it. The price was on the low end of the spectrum.  It is a brand name, much respected in printerdom.  It’s very small.  That’s what I told myself I wanted.  I was tired of the extra space the larger printers need.  I read the description—printer, copier, scanner.  That was all I needed.  I ordered it before Christmas, but didn’t take it out of the box until last week, which means the date has passed for free returns.  

The printer works, albeit downloading the driver was the most difficult process I have ever run into with any previous printer.  The printer does everything the box says it does: print, copy, scan.  However, I could probably get a calligrapher to make copies at the same speed.  Besides being slow, you can only feed one piece of paper at a time into the slot when you are copying or scanning, and you have to hold that page until the machine grabs it.  There is no lid to raise when you are scanning, you have to use the same slot you use for copying.   This means there is no way to copy or scan something as small as a drivers license.  

I could pay for the shipping, send it back with a note that explains that it doesn’t meet my expectations, but I won’t.  I will keep it and suffer through until this printer, like all the printers that have gone before, breathes its last.  This means, of course, the printer will probably still be printing after I’m long gone, and my great grandchildren will find it on the upper floor of an old farm house and play with it, like my sisters and I did when we discovered our grandmother’s Victrola.

If I had taken the time to look at the detailed product images on the website, I would have noticed that there was no lid to raise to scan and no place to hold and feed paper into the slot.  The absence of those features alone would have made my decision for me.  But, did I do that?  No, I didn’t.  The whole ordeal has left me feeling really stupid, and you know what that respected philosopher, Forrest Gump, had to say about stupid.  “Stupid is as stupid does.”

There are basically two reasons I continue to do stupid things.  The printer debacle demonstrates the first reason—I don’t pay attention.  The second reason I continue to do stupid things is because I want a solution now.  I see a problem, it seems like an easy fix, I set about fixing it.  I do not first consider all the variables.  This is a problem Garey and his sister, Charlotte, DO NOT have.  I give you exhibit A.  

Friday night, Garey and I were just getting ready to watch “Fire Country”—my new favorite network show.  Charlotte called, so Garey paused the TV.  When you pause the TV, a timer at the lower right of the screen keeps up with the time that is passing.  For forty-one minutes and seven seconds, they discussed what to do about the water pipes in their mother’s house (Agnes passed away in November).  When Charlotte checked on the house this week, there was no heat in the house, because, evidently, the propane tank was empty, even though the gage said 80 percent.  

Garey advised Charlotte to go to Walmart and get a small space heater with a thermostat, like the one he uses in his shop.  He told her she could set it in the basement, and it should produce enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing.  Garey went on to give her a detailed description of the heater—height, width, on/off button, temperature control dial and color options.  When he was finished, I could have picked it out in a police line-up.  

Next up was a discussion on ordering propane for the empty tank that didn’t know it was empty.  There was probably a phone number on the tank, and if there wasn’t one, the company was more than likely listed online.    Maybe, the company could be convinced to deliver just enough to get them through until spring.  The discussion went on for forty-one minutes and seven seconds.  Garey pushed play on the forty-one minutes and eight-second mark.  I was asleep by the nine-second mark, and I missed all 60 minutes of “Fire Country.”

If I had been the person who discovered there was no heat in Agnes’ house and no propane in the tank.  I would have made a quick trip to Walmart, where I would have purchased no fewer than five of the cheapest space heaters the company offers, brought them back, then set them up in various places throughout the house and basement.  Problem solved.  I would not have taken into account the age of the house, and hence the wiring, which would mean some or all of the heaters would short out, causing a fire that would engulf the entire structure, leaving only a charred monument to my stupidity.

(Did you know there is a painting called “Study for a Monument to Stupidity?”  The artist is David Stern.  I would buy it, but it costs $90,000, and that would be stupid.)

Recently, I heard someone say that the only way to learn not to do stupid things is by doing stupid things.  

I’m doomed!



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