The Difference Between Copying and Printing








I had to print several documents from a USB drive so I googled “local print shop” and found a store close to my home. Rather than reveal the store name, I’ll instead offer up that it rhymes with poopy-S.

Me: Hi, I need to print a few documents. Are these printers self-service?

Clerk: You’re making copies?

Me: No, I’m looking to print some documents.

Clerk: Okay, so you’ll need a key to access our copy machines.

Whatever, I thought. The clerk hands me a small box that looked like a harmonica.

Me: What’s this for?

Clerk: It’s a copy counter. You insert it into the copy machine and it counts the number of copies.

Me: I’m not making copies. Will it also count the printed pages?

Clerk: We’re talking about the same thing.

Me: I guess I’m just used to other print shops where you can use a credit card at the actual machine to print documents. It’s self service.

Clerk: Yeah.

I insert the box into the machine and then begin my search for the USB port. No luck.

Me: Where’s this machine’s USB port?

Clerk: It doesn’t have one.

I should have known. Any copy/printer that is the same color as the kitchen appliances my parents had when I was growing up was likely a bad sign.

Me: So, this machine doesn’t allow printing?

Clerk: Sure it does.

Me: I thought we were talking about the same thing? And your front window has a huge sign that says you’re a full service print shop.

Clerk: We are. You place your documents into the feeder and it prints a copy for you.

Me: That’s copying, not printing.

Clerk: Why are you so combative, Dude?

Me: I’m not combative. It’s just that printers were invented in like 1899 and here we are in 2016 and you’re clueless about the difference between printing and copying.

Clerk walks over to my machine and lifts the top cover.

Clerk: Watch.

He places his hand on the glass surface and presses Start. The machine lights up and a bright blue bar scrolls across the glass. A second later a sheet of paper emerges from the side of the machine. The clerk grabs the paper and holds it up.

Clerk: See. I just printed a copy of my hand.

Me: That’s still copying, not printing. You know what. It’s okay. I’ll just find another way to do this.

Clerk: So, you’re giving up?

Me: To be honest I sort of gave up when you handed me the harmonica.

Clerk: What’s a harmon–

Me: Yes! I’m giving up. Have a wonderful life. Good-bye.


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