In the third grade, there was a period of time where I helped out in the copy room. I ran basic copy jobs and refilled paper when necessary. My third grade self took great pride in my work. I loved the smell of freshly printed paper. I also found great satisfaction in bringing a gigantic machine roaring to life by pushing just a few buttons.

I remember teachers giving me praise for my work, on two separate occasions. A teacher would come to the secretary’s office and describe a copy job to be done. I responded by refilling the paper tray and pushing the requisite buttons. Each time, with the kind of enthusiasm teachers reserved for little kids, I was given a compliment.

“How efficient!” they exclaimed in a syrupy tone.

When I recall this memory now, I wonder why the details are so clear in my mind. Perhaps there was an inflection in the teachers’ voices that struck me as odd. Or maybe it’s my secret calling to duplicate grayscale images in a suburban Chicago elementary school.