My colleague is one of those intense type A personalities. Over the past six months since I started, I’ve seen him cough out his morning coffee in the printer room, lay on the floor as the paper slowly creeps into the printer for processing, and plunge his hand repeatedly into the trail, all the while screaming winning, fail, or I don’t know, WHY PAPER WHY, for all I know.

It can get tiring to watch him go about his shenanigans in the pursuit of attempted office fame. So, when I approached his cubicle the other day, he told me he was going away for a few weeks for a conference, and asked that I help him print the remaining slides. Honestly, it was a relief. I can’t explain the peace of mind I had knowing I didn’t have to brace myself for any of his stupidity for awhile. I was always afraid his printer obsession would wind up bleeding over into my professional reputation simply because we sit next to each other.

For the next few days, work life was pretty normal without his presence. I used the printer room in peace to print a few slides here, a few contracts there. Then, one evening, I came into work to find a red dot blinking on the machine. Glancing at the display screen in big black letters was typed “PAPER JAM”.

Panic climbed up from my fingertips onto my face but I decided to collect myself. I will not be defeated by a printer. I lightly kicked the printer and heard a jarring EERRGGG inside.

I cursed.

I hoped I hadn’t broken anything important, but figured I just wouldn’t tell my colleagues about it and let them assume that nothing was happening in the printer room.

Feeling around the printer, I managed to find the handle for the paper tray and found it to be pretty stuck. And boy did it screech in protest as I pulled it out to examine the jam. I dragged the plastic container with its pieces of paper out the rest of the way, set the tray in the corner, pulled out the jam, and placed the tray back in.

I’m not sure exactly how fast it took for the smell to waft in from the printer crack under the paper tray, but it came in a fast progression. It was a sickly smoky odor similar to burnt hair, and for the first few minutes after I smelled it, I genuinely assumed I had set something on fire.

It was only when I realized the scent was growing more intense instead of fading that I went looking for a source. That’s when I opened up the paper tray again, and the odor knocked me back, forcing me to hold my nose.

I reached deeper into the tray to find what was burning. Nothing. With heavy sighs, I couldn’t imagine what I would do for my 12PM meeting without a contract for them to sign and supplemental documents for the lawyers to review. My hair grayed from the edges within the next 5 minutes before I heard a knock on the door.

It was my strange colleague, having returned from his conference.

“Hey Paul, I just came back from a conference and got our company set up on an eSignature provider called DocuSign. We’ll never have to deal with a printer again.”

I gaped at him before rushing off to get my account set up so that I’ll never have to deal with a signature scare again.

Click here to learn more about how you can avoid signature scares this Halloween (and year-round).