I work with a woman; let's call her Stella. Stella was using one of our fax machines when it ran out of toner. She retrieved a fresh bottle of toner from the supplies cabinet, gave it a little shake, and installed it in the machine.
The machine said "I am out of toner. Give me toner." Stella said "I just gave you a bottle of toner." The machine said "Give me toner or I will not perform any further duties."
Stella reasoned that that particular bottle of toner must be faulty, so she retrieved a different bottle from the supplies cabinet, gave it a little shake, and installed it in the machine. The machine said "I am all out of toner. How do you expect me to print anything for you when I don't have any toner?" Stella said "I have just given you a second, brand new bottle of toner. What more do you want from me?" The machine answered "I must have toner, woman. Give me toner or give me death."
Stella retrieved the third, and last, spare bottle of toner from the supplies cabinet. As indicated on the instructions, she gave it a little shake and installed it in the machine. The machine said "Why do you deprive me so? All I ask for is a little toner so that I can do my job. Do you delight in my empty cartridge? Are you mocking me?" Stella said "I promise you, I am trying to give you toner. Can't you acknowledge the new bottle I just put into you?" The machine wouldn't answer her.
Stella, according to her version of the story, then presumed that she must not have shaken the bottles of toner with sufficient vigour to activate them. She removed the third new bottle, replaced the lid firmly (she claims), and then shook it very vigorously.
The lid flew off. The plastic dispenser under the lid also flew off.
A huge plume of super-fine toner dust exploded into the copy room and spread out like a mushroom cloud. Stella froze. The haze of particles swirled lazily, and slowly began to settle. Stella paused for one moment, in the evil inverse of a well-shaken snow globe, and then ran from the room.
Due to the laws of aerodynamics, a considerable amount of black toner cloud was sucked from the room into the hallway, in Stella's slipstream.
By the time the dust cloud had settled, there was a big, BIG mess. Toner all over the floor, the walls, the surfaces, the copy machine, the papers that were spread out on the file cabinets. The layer of toner under the epicentre of the explosion was thick, splashed out in an uneven star shape, as though there had been an actual fire that had burned its mark into the floor.
Of course it was my responsibility to deal with the problem.
First I called the technician that services the machine. He said he'd get there as soon as he could. (That turned out to be 2.5 business days later. Nice service, guys!)
I also called the guy who runs our cleaning service. He said "Hey, no problem, I have a shop-vac with a HEPA filter. We'll have you ship-shape by tomorrow." (You can't use a regular vacuum to clean up a big toner spill because the fine powder will sift through the bag into the motor and break it.) I felt extremely relieved to learn that he could help me.
I came in the next morning and the room looked exactly the same. I called the cleaner and he said "We had a little problem with the shop vac. I think I have another one in storage. I'll try again tonight."
At this point I was desperate to get the situation cleaned up. The mess in the hall was getting tracked all over the office, and we were missing the use of the copy room. You can't sweep toner (it's too fine) or clean it up with water (it turns into black paint), so I did the only thing I could think of. I went to the store and bought a 32-pack of Swiffer (TM) dusting cloths. Then a co-worker and I put on masks and rubber gloves and went down on our hands and knees to Swiffer the floor.
We used up the 32 dusting cloths in pretty short order. We managed to clean up a little less than half of the mess. My mask wasn't very well-fitted. I had a sinus headache that evening, and I sneezed toner dust for a few hours.
Thank heaven, my cleaner's second shop vac did the trick. I arrived the next morning to a perfectly clean copy room. Apparently I needn't have bothered with the Swiffers. However, in case you ever run across a similar situation, they are pretty handy at picking up toner. I just wouldn't recommend them for the scale of the explosion in my particular case.