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The Column

The Return to Popcopy
5/18/03

I don't normally include fan mail in my column. When a reader takes the time to write me a kind letter, I may notice the occasional errors in grammar, spelling, and judgment but I keep them to myself and a few of my friends or strangers. But I do not use this space to ridicule someone who takes the time to send me fan mail. Hate mail, however, is an entirely different story.

Three months ago, I wrote a column about an incident I had with Kinko's, where they lied to me about when they could finish my work, lied to me about when it was ready, had three out of three computers broken, had two of two color copiers "down," and loaded the wrong paper in a printer and blamed me for letting them load it. Clearly, this was all my fault.

Or so says my new internet friend, who goes only by the name of "Plato Reborn." That's right - now that one of the greatest thinkers of all time has been re-incarnated, he's working at Kinko's. We've got to do something about this economy.

"Plato" recently sent me a message informing me that I "came off as an a**hole, and we charge a**holes for everything possible." This I did not have a problem with, since that's a sound policy. It's probably why coffee costs $7 at Starbucks. Because to pay $7 for coffee, you've got to be a bit of an a**hole.

Plato went on to explain that he's been a part of the evil empire for the last seven months, and has grown increasingly "bitter" at arrogant people who think the world revolves around them. I imagine these people are so arrogant, they refer to themselves as "Plato Reborn." Oh, wait.

In Plato's denim-clad republic, "mostly all of our customers do not know how our technology works." Which is true, but that's because it doesn't work at all. I wrote my column about a day when every computer and color copier were "down." Regardless of my knowledge of the copying process, it would have been just as effective to stay at home and try to print something with my toaster.

Plato pointed out that a lot of the damage is caused by "ignorant people who load paper that is not meant to be used in laser printers" which is particularly amusing since my column detailed how that was done by one of the Kinko's employees. He also complained that parents "let their children put rubber cement on our computers," apparently upset that there wouldn't be enough to take back to the break room and sniff before the start of the next shift.

The worst insult he doled out (and trust me, there were many) was that I "obviously do not know how businesses work." "How should you," he continued. "You are a stand up comedian." Ouch. I was tempted to fire back by describing the economics classes I've aced and the companies I've started. Instead, I will merely point out the business savvy it must take to spend the last seven months working at Kinko's.

Plato closed his letter by explaining that he may be coming off harsh, but he was at Kinko's when he wrote it and was overworked since the location that employs him is quite understaffed. That's right - he read an 800-word column and crafted a 300-word response while his store was understaffed.

"Excuse me, sir? I need help with this copier."

"Would you shut up? I'm busy writing an indignant letter to this columnist. Mmmm…rubber cement."

Plato II, I thank you for your vitriolic tirade, which proved everything I'd previously written about my Kinko's experience.

Not everyone who works at Kinko's is incompetent, and perhaps some of the stores even have employees that know how to do the jobs for which they are paid. Maybe some stores don't ruin your original, don't yell at you for their errors, and actually respect you as someone who is giving them money to provide a service. And maybe, just maybe, there are even stores out there that fire employees who use company time to reply to newspaper columns. But until I see one, I will continue to assume that all Kinko's are just as poopy as the ones I've visited.

My favorite line in Plato's e-mail was that Kinko's "can do things with a copy machine that most people cannot even realize."

Oh yeah? Let's start by making a freakin' copy.

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