“A Copy Center Journal,” by Jesse William Olson

Dec 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Day 1

Started my new job today here at the university, thought I’d keep a journal. Staffing a help desk in the library copy center. Real boring. Read a piece of paper from the recycle bin that caught my eye called “Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future.” Listened to a guy talk to his phone for an hour in a different language while scanning things. He left without saying anything to me. Did not need help with the copiers, I guess.

Must figure out things to do. I wish there was a window.

Day 2

Still not much to do. There are 93 ceiling tiles if you don’t count the partial ones around lights, fans, and other unidentifiable ceiling things. Someone needed help today, but I didn’t know enough about the copiers to help them. She figured it out on her own, eventually. Will spend an hour reading manuals so I can actually do what I am paid to do in the future.

Unsure of the usefulness of this job.

Day 5

Really wish my computer wasn’t broken. Took inventory of desk today. 10 staple inserts for the fancy staplers. 13 assorted pens. 4 boxes of paper clips, but 7 loose paper clips of assorted sizes. 1 ruler. 1 burnt out lightbulb—why did someone want to keep that? I left it in the desk. 4 pads of sticky notes, though one is half used. 19 lost and found copycards. 2 staff copycards (red). Lots of dust. 7 unidentifiable plastic pieces of unknown origin, including a one by two inch sheet labeled “do not remove.” Not sure what it’s referring to, but I didn’t. 4 unidentifiable metal pieces. Lots of dust. LOTS of dusts. 3 dead ladybugs.

Three people came in today.

Day 7

Longer shift today, the person who works before me asked me to cover for him. Ugh. Spend so much time here, might as well stay overnight. Then won’t need to waste time traveling through the snow. Ha. I said “time traveling.” Made a collage out of sticky notes. Kind of looks like a face. Must practice this. Also figured out how to scan things directly to an email address. Found several interesting articles that I scanned to my email. One was about mating habits of rats. Interesting—perhaps useful later? No one came in today.

Day 13

Have not written in a while, busy with an experiment. Scanned a piece of blank paper in the copy machine. (Copy machine in back room is free of charge for staff, no worries for my wallet). Continued putting the output pages into the input to see if imperfections and flaws would form and grow as the sheets get copied again and again. Current paper has markings on it substantial enough to have been mistaken for pen marks.

One person came in, but I stayed in the back room, except to ask her about marks on paper. She is the one who mistook them for pen marks. Funny that what she saw started off as a blank piece of paper. Have I begun to make something from nothing? Person left quickly after I started conversation. Hmm.

Scheduled to work tomorrow morning. Plan to spend night in the backroom.

Day 15

Accidentally spent last night in backroom as well. NOT scheduled to work THIS morning. Currently hiding in colored paper closet while other employee reads a book and does homework. Writes a column for one of the student papers, or something. Has left the room three times in past two hours. Does not know I am here. Think his name is Sean. Do not think he would understand why I am if he found out.

Must hide for two more hours until my shift starts. Not sure how to switch shifts without alerting him of my hiding spot. Hmm. Will think about this now.

Day 18

Have fixed my experiment. Using staff copy cards and copy cards from the lost and found, I have made all copiers operational. Have set up copiers so that output of Copier A lands in bypass input from Copier B, which lands its output into bypass input of copier C and so on. Only is functional if I keep all machines running continuously, though, so I need a larger workload of paper.

Experiment is working—papers are getting more and more marks out of nowhere. This is really breathtaking.

Winter break is approaching soon. Other employee is vacationing early – have all of his hours for the next week. Good. Room is closed over break. Bad.

Day 22

No more money on copycards – experiment on hold.

Wrote note saying “Help, I’m stuck in your computer.” Scanned face, hands, and note and sent image to random email addresses left in the scanner’s memory. A funny joke.

Danced on desk in case anyone would walk by. One person walked by, but did not notice.

Day 28

Carefully turned front desk on its side, such that vertical dimension is now greater than length or width.

All paper clips and pens have been deposited individually into the crack between the elevator floor and the doorway, when no one was looking. Had to hide when janitors came by in hallways. They do not clean this room, so all was good.

Break approaching soon. Will be free from their patrols then.

Day 32

Took clothes off because no one will know. Got cold and made paper-chain chainmail. Still cold. Put select clothes back on.

Wish there were a window in the room.

Low on food.

Day 35

Has been some time since break began—building technically closed. Main building lights are off now.

Drank water from dehydrator. Gross, but needed water—did not want to enter hallway. No food left in refrigerator. Must resolve this issue by any means necessary. Also, am angry at copiers that I cannot use—wish I had more copy cards.

Day 37

Feeling claustrophobic. Made a collage out of colored paper in the shape of a third floor window. Feel somewhat better. Created nice green trees with apples.

Better yet.

Day 39

Very hungry now. Only things left in refrigerator are tape, staplers, and phone—cannot eat them. Hand sanitizer bottle made a mess in microwave.

Have begun putting paper down elevator shaft as well. Must be quick so that I do not remain in the hallway too long. Wonder how much emptiness is down there.

I think the microwave is still hungry.

Enjoy looking at paper window.

Day 40

Loaded copiers into elevator until full, sent them to basement. Do not want them. Loaded rest of copiers which wouldn’t fit in elevator into the stairwell. Can still see them if I am in the hallway. Not good.

Microwave still drooling burnt hand sanitizer. Now also full of paper, though not sure how.

Caught ear in a mousetrap trying to find my clothes. Painful. Starving now.

Spend significant time looking out window that I made. Only faintly remember place I lived before moving here.

I find one of the papers from experiment. Streaked and dotted with black ink. Having successfully created something from nothing, am I God?

Day 45

Lights came on and people are in my building. Do not know why. Do not want them here. Person came in my room, but I chased him. Said something about copiers – but copiers are not here, could not help him. Same issue with clothes. Directed person to stairway. He mentioned cops. Seemed nervous.

Almost wish I still had copiers, as they would help fill the barricade in progress.

Have found a bottle of compressed air with which to defend myself. Should perhaps pretend I am not here.

Now hiding in lately emptied colored paper closet. Compressed air is ready.

Will jump out window if necessary. Looks like a nice day outside.

Footsteps approaching.

Will eat an apple if I survive the fall.


Jesse William Olson is a denizen of Pennsylvania, where, aside from writing, he spends his time teaching English, playing capoeira, and no longer working in the copying industry. Most of his work is safely hidden, but some can be found in The Motley Press. He would like you to know that the apples taste wonderful.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.