Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Machine hijinks

At my library we have a large, multi-sorting automated check in machine. It is a tireless, dedicated worker, but like a person, it has its good days and its bad days.

Today was one of its bad days. One of those days I'll remember all my life.

Items would go to the wrong bins. Books would bunch up on the rollers. Music CDs in particular would get sucked down into the dark bowels of the machine. The machine would hesitate, hiccup, stop. I had to shut down and restart the machine four times! And all along it was making strange, almost musical sounds, singing even. I thought I heard the words "this time tomorrow". There were drumming sounds, guitar-like sounds.

Finally the machine was working so poorly I decided to have a look at its innards. Something was seriously wrong. Maybe cherry cola spilled into it? I pulled off an access panel and there, from inside the machine looking out, was a man.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Mick Avory." He replied politely, in an English accent.

"Well, you'll have to get out of there." I said firmly.

So he got out of the machine and headed into the library.

I thought for sure this would solve our problems. And at first the machine seemed okay, but then it jammed again, started going slow, started grinding. And I heard the music. "Oh Yeah!" It sang, and then something about not sleeping at night.

"I bet there's another English bloke in there!" I thought as I tore off another access panel. Sure enough there was a man in a suit, a well respected type, crouched tightly in, playing a guitar as well as he could such a tiny space. It was another English fellow, said his name was Dave. Was that his first or last name? At least he was pleasant about leaving.

With him gone the machine was all right, at least with me by its side. But then, as I got busy with other things, the music came back, something about "All day" and something about "All of the night". The rollers on the belts were stopping and starting. I opened the panels one more time.

A guy was sort of smirking up at me, though I guess he turned out to be polite enough. The machine shut down and stopped with a sob. I told him, I guess Ray was his name, another English fellow, that he had to go. He went.

I looked all over in the machine for anyone else, but I couldn't see a soul. I started the machine back up again. Finally, now that all the Kinks were out, it worked perfectly.


  1. Next time our copier at work jams, I'm going to look for the Englishmen. Perhaps one will offer me some greasy fish 'n chips in newspaper.

    1. Yes, this is always the first thing to look for, and I hope you get yourself some fish 'n chips, but most most of these guys think they are a flower to be looked at. Oh yes he is. Oh yes he is.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.