Thursday, January 29, 2009

Office Supply & Demand

The other day I got into a fight with my stapler.

It’s not even my stapler. It’s an imposter. It’s sitting on my desk in the house and I have no idea where it came from.

OUTLANDER!

I was trying to staple papers for a meeting. But the stapler did not want to do its job. You know what, when I wake up tomorrow I am just not going to do my job. Every time someone asks me to do something I am just going to sputter and then jam up.

…I…..I...I…..cannot….answer….your….question…..the….workout….is …..THWAT!

(that was the sound of me spitting out workout mumbo jumbo back at you like a bent up broken staple)


How well would that go over? Not very. So why does the stapler get away with it and not me?

(as a side note I do tend to spit out swim workouts with very bad math and for some reason the only two that routinely get these workouts are Cat and Colleen. This happens so often to Cat that she politely informed me that my laptop has a calculator…)

Of the few things I miss about working in an office, the stapler is one. On my last day as I packed up 7 years of things I had collected in my corner office (yes, nice girls do get the corner office, and it does have two windows with a view and a door you can close to keep everyone out), I considered stealing one thing:

The stapler

I special ordered the stapler a few years earlier. My first stapler kept disappearing. The second stapler was a cheap Swingline that the Receptionist ordered to save money. Those savings were my frustrations. For every penny we saved by ordering the cheap stapler, we wasted a penny in a jammed staple. Brilliant idea on ordering the cheap one.

So finally when it was in my budget I ordered myself a new stapler.

This stapler was serious about stapling. It was sleek and fully operational – all the time. I actually looked forward to stapling. You know how office work is – finding something when you need it and having it work at the same time is like an office miracle.

I loved stapling.

Sadly, I ended up leaving the stapler behind. Turns out that reorganizing all of my files into File 13 was a much more productive way to spend my last day there.

*cheers*

When I started working from home I had to build my own empire of office supplies. Not as easy as you think. You know all of those little things that just seem to be floating around the office whenever you need them for your job (or a special home project where you just borrow the supplies for awhile or…uh…permanently)? Paperclips, post-it notes, copier paper, binder clips and a mach speed copier machine? Yeah, well when you work from home those things aren’t always there. So every little thing need you have to go out and buy a box of 100 of them because they don’t come any smaller. And the copy machine? No such luck. You are painstakingly scanning every piece of paper in your printer.

Which takes 30 seconds per page – in case you were wondering.

That is where I was last Thursday. Scan, print, staple. Or, scan, wait, wait wait wait, print and then ram my fist on the stapler 100 times because it would not staple.

As I drove to my meeting with stacks of papers with corners chewed apart by the rogue stapler, I called up Purchasing. As you know, I employ 3 employees in my company. Myself, my dog and my husband. My dog is the Boss and token Chihuahua (every company needs a token accessory dog). Myself – does the actual work. My husband – is the VP, Equipment Consultant, Accountant, Mail Clerk, Shipping & Receiving, Maintenance and Purchasing.

Immediately the call went into voicemail (figures…) so I left a message describing the stapler I wanted. It is black. It is sleek. It has bumps on the upper top end of it. It staples. Buy me that stapler or buy nothing at all.

A few hours later, the email came in: is this the stapler you are looking for? with an online link.

There it was. My old stapler.

DING DING DING DING! That’s the ticket!

That night, Chris came home and I asked him if he had the new stapler. I was ready to start flawless stapling. He said no – he would order it. Order it? Typical of any Purchasing Department, eh? I need it now – not 3 weeks from now. Alas, I waited….

The next day, I was in the kitchen flipping through a magazine when I noticed something on the counter.

What is this? I mumbled to myself with a mouth full of pita chips. Over there on the counter protected in a fortress of plastic was….a stapler – but not THE stapler.

Let me make one thing clear:

That was not the stapler I was looking for.

I picked it up. It would take at least a knife to cut through the Alcatraz of plastic packaging. And I would have to consider it an upper body workout to operate the thing. It was HUGE! At least 3 inches tall of stapler. Not only that but I turned the package over to read these very convincing statements: “70% less effort”, “release the power”…

Are we talking about a stapler or an automatic weapon? Do I need a special permit to staple with this?

I got scared. Left it on the counter – untouched, not sure I could handle releasing its power with 70% less effort (what do I do with the other 30% - collate some copies? Sharpen pencils?)

Later that evening, Chris appeared in the bathroom door, stapler in hand. I didn’t know if I should duck or play along with whatever strange office supply game was about to begin.

Did you see this?

I looked at it. I looked at him.

That is not the stapler I was looking for.

He admitted that he knew. The stapler I wanted was out of stock. The one he got for me was a better stapler. Top of the line. The best stapler money could buy. Look at it, he begged me…

That is not THE stapler.

I just couldn’t explain. I wanted my old stapler. Perhaps it is just me trying to hang on to any threads that remain to the office job that I once knew. I miss the cabinet full of office supplies and the man-eating copier. I miss having co-workers, even the ones I didn’t like because I really liked talking about how much I didn’t like them with the co-workers I did like. I do not miss being mismanaged but I do miss the feeling of Fridays. Or seeing how much time of your day you could waste making coffee, reheating coffee, cleaning the coffee pot, walking to the bathroom, walking to the other building to use the other bathroom, cleaning your desk, making your desk look messy so you look busy.


And I miss the office supplies. In the land of office work, your office supplies mean everything. Your day is completely ruined if you lose your favorite blue pen. You might as well go home after lunch if the whole puncher punches the hole too close to the edge. You tell yourself if the copier jams one more time you will quit the job altogether.

Sigh.

I don’t miss my last job, I just miss certain things about having an ‘away from home’ job. Working from home is a dream come true of pajama bottoms and bed head but then you realize you work in your home and live in your home – you spend all day working there, living there and days go by where you think to yourself:

I haven’t left my home in days….(unless you count swimming which really doesn’t count)

The good news is that I am starting to build my own empire of office supplies that could make or break my day. If you send me an email and it comes back sounding short there is a good chance I am in a tangle with the scissors or the scotch tape. I had one such tangle the other day. The printer ran out of ink so I cursed the receptionist. I know it’s futile to curse myself but it sure felt good to blame it on someone else. I have nothing but my favorite pens around and I’m even growing keen to the idea of this new stapler powerful enough to put out 400 watts with each staple.

But I’m telling you, the first paper it mis-staples, I’m going home after lunch.


Or, I’m going out to lunch.

Something like that.

6 comments:

ADC said...

I looove my stapler. I work in a huge office so we have our huge stationery room and the trip down there is like Xmas come early. And it's Friday so that feelign let's have long Friday lunch is buzzing around :-)

Ulyana said...

Perfect description of office work and work at home. I'm working from home right now, and, honestly, I've had enough! "I'm going out to lunch" is my way to deal with being in the same space forever. Or I just go run earlier in the day. Or start working really early in the day so by the time I am awake, I am done with half of the day.

Wes said...

Wow! All that... about a stapler... It's a gift... really :-)

Dave said...

I did get a chuckle out of my swim distance yesterday being "~2800".

Kim said...

All that from a Stapler. I think you and the stapler had a secret love affair the way you're talking about it! GEEZZ! If I ever get my hands on one of those what will happen to me? Will I never leave the office again? AND YES! I do agree working from home has advantages but it is the "I've run out of sweats to wear and haven't left the house for four days nor have I done my hair or put on makeup" that gets me. I'm not going to use that mascara up until 2014. O well. Good luck with that new stapler..or weapon..or whatever.

D said...

But then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire...