Auntie Librarian vs the Evil Laminator of Doom

It's back to school time. It's that time of year when we teachers converge on the lone laminating machine in the teacher work room with a powerful desire to coat countless documents in shiny clear plastic.

In the final day or two before the students return, during that push to create vibrant, colorful learning spaces for our students, the laminator ALWAYS runs out of film. Someone must load the machine with new rolls of laminating film, quickly. It's an emergency. Today, that someone was me.

I was working in the library when the summons came. It was only a matter of time before it happened. The person who had changed the film on the laminator for over 20 years had retired.  And now, the duty was falling to me.  "Mrs. Tazerouti, the laminator is out of film and the sixth grade teachers need to laminate their id cards!" said the teacher. I put my stack of books on the table and headed to the teacher workroom.

"Wish me luck. I’ve never done this before." I said nervously as I walked past the teachers in the work room remembering the laminating disasters of years past that sent teachers flocking to other schools to use their laminators.   “Good Luck,” they said. 

Evil Laminator of Doom
I looked at the machine.  I studied how the film passed through the rollers, over and under the rollers, and out the back of the machine.

Then, I turned around and went to the front office to make an announcement on the school’s PA system. “If there is ANYONE in the building who knows how to load film in the laminator, please come to the workroom now.”

No one came.  

“Is there something wrong?” my fellow teachers asked with concerned faces. “No” I told them, “I just don’t want to mess it up.” 

I load the film and turn on the machine. Another teacher helps. The film wraps around the middle roller several times instead of coming out the back of the machine.  I had failed to use a piece of cardboard or a manila folder to thread the film through the machine. The other teacher leaves, and I spend the next 45 minutes using an exacto knife, scissors, pliers and big tweezers from the science lab to pull and cut away the thick layers of laminating film from the middle roller. I am sweating. Teachers pop into the workroom to check my progress.  “What will we do?” I hear one teacher whisper to another. “Where will we go?”

Jumbled up words! Oh No!
After de-laminating the middle roller, it is time to try again. This time I have the necessary manila folder, but I am scared. Google. That’s it, I’ll search up a step by step guide or even watch a video showing me how to do this correctly. I do a quick search.  Access Denied. The sites are blocked! The phone rings, it’s someone from the high school, their laminator is out of film too.  Like me, the person at the high school has just freed their middle roller of laminating film and wants to know how to access an online how-to guide that is not blocked by the filter. We laugh and swap stories. It is good to know someone else shares my struggle. But secretly I worry. “What will we do if I can’t fix this? We can’t go to the high school now, and those elementary teachers will never let us near their laminator!”
Today is the last work day before the students return. I keep digging online until I find an unblocked “how to load your laminator” web page. When I print it something makes the words jumble together, making it impossible to read the crucial steps two and three. I copy and paste the web page into Word and print it. Then, I fax a copy over to the high school and head to the workroom to conquer the laminator.

With the help of the principal and another teacher, I thread the machine. We’ve done it. The machine heats up and it actually works! The squeaky sound of the plastic feeding through the machine is music to my ears.
Victory! Word gets out that the laminator is fixed and happy teachers flood the workroom. Let the laminating begin!

Welcome back to school! Happy laminating everybody!



hloy said...

OMG, know I shouldn't laugh, but I have to! While my experience isn't anything like yours - I was trained by the out going teacher before I had to take on the laminator so I knew how to change the roles. However, at least twice a year someone forgets to STOP the laminator before turning it off so the back roller gets completely wrapped in film and I have to do what you did to remove the film. Glad you were victorious.

NatalieSap said...

Know that you are not alone! This very situation occurred at my school this week, and I have no idea who eventually figured it out. Like you, I googled videos on how to load a laminator, but they were so complicated that I panicked and ran away. :x I hope I never have to do this!

Librarian Tiff said...

Ahhh... the joys of cutting rogue film off the roller. Been there, done that for sure! We have started the year with our new laminator on back order!! The old one ran its final race and now we (im)patiently wait for the new machine to arrive!

Fran said...

You had me laughing out loud! You captured the fear, panic, and frustration we all feel when the school year starts back. Throw in the Evil Laminator of Doom....and things just go downhill.

Hope the rest of your school year goes well!

Cathy Jo Nelson said...

Feeling this pain too--we have used up two entire sets of rolls this week, and have a long line of very impatient folks waiting for the new rolls to arrive. I did go ahead an buy a cold laminator for small jobs that seems to be appeasing some. What is it about back to school that makes everyone want to spend time with Lammy the laminator?? WE have one brave sou at school who will willingly change the film while the machine is HOT. Now that is one person desperate for Lammy to be in working order. I will only do it while the machine is cool.