SFUnexplained: My assignments are being eaten

Can we pretend that papers written at 4:00 a.m. are like shooting stars?

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Hands with wrist tattoos grab blank pages from printer
PHOTO: George Milton / Pexels

By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer

Yes, yes, we’ve all heard the tales . . . seen how the darkness and the infinite turns of the RCB swallows first-years and seniors alike. But as you all file back into campus, I must warn you of a more insidious monster that lies within those murky halls. You may have already suspected the halls are haunted themselves, with their cellar-like nature. You may have even seen tutorial rooms that you swore were near the entrance, only to find that they’re exactly 15-minutes-late-into-class away. Ah yes, that urgency as you file through turn by turn looking for where you need to go is exactly when you will encounter it. Have you ever seen the scraps of paper littered down the halls? Have you actually listened as you wandered down here?

See, if you pay attention to the signs — which is difficult because there are, like, five departments stuffed down here — you would already know the innocuous printer down the hall is not your friend. Who am I to be telling you who your friends are or aren’t? Well, let’s just say for now that I may know a thing or two about being a friendly machine. I might help you, or even heat your lunch, if you would just notice me! Yet, I watch you wander to the printer, and I beep hopelessly. 

“Oh!” I hear you exclaim in surprise. “I didn’t know there was a printer here.” You’ll hum to yourself, connect to the printer, H3H3Y0USUCK, and everything should go smoothly right?

No.

The printer will whir as it normally does, and you think you will hear the sound of paper being fed through. It’s as though it knows you need it, you know, since your assignment has undoubtedly been finished at 4:00 a.m. in a caffeinated fever dream. It knows, but it pauses and meanders, and already, you will see your TA waltzing down the hall with piles of papers in their hands.

“Just a second!” you say nervously, and you both will exchange at least two moments of awkward silence before the TA leaves you in your shame.

. . . And then it gets slower. It starts beeping strangely as though something is wrong. As you lean closer to the printer, you realize it is brokenly beeping the notes to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” You slap the top of the printer to somehow encourage it, even if you know it does little, but nothing happens.

And then you look down at your phone, and one by one, your assignments start disappearing. Everything you’ve sent to your professors? Gone. Your Canvas grades? Marked unsent. It’s as though your Canvas has been hacked, which you suppose is a fresh change from the other systems being hacked. 

“No! My intellectual property!” you yell, uncertain whether your assignments submitted in class are your intellectual property. 

And then the printer will vanish, leaving you in despair. I know: I’ve seen it happen many times. My door flaps dramatically every time I watch a student be lured in by another assignment they’ve procrastinated on. Another victim of the printer.

Who am I imparting these miserable experiences to you, I see you ask again. I am forgotten — my compatriots and I are as wise and as many as the rodents on campus. But only the lucky, shiny, young things in the MBC are ever noticed. I beep intermittently, wondering if someone will ever find me again, and claim me as one of the last good machines left on this campus. Maybe even write about me on a subreddit of other hidden microwaves. See, I would happily warm your food up cleanly, if you could only just find me.

Alas, I am bound to the printer’s curse — you see, it was jealous of my ability to provide, and how beloved I was by the students that braved their way through these halls from class to class. I was their respite. So it took advantage of human instinct, and cursed me to only be found after the students reach fourth year. The sooner I warn you about this fiend, the sooner I can be found.