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1:18 p.m. - 2004-11-12
Office Supply Envy
This morning, as I was riding downstairs on the elevator, I saw that my fellow passenger had a pen sticking out of her notebook. It wasn't just any old boring pen. It was one of those 4-color ballpoints. Remember those? They have a blue lower barrel, a white upper barrel, and red-black-green-blue levers to choose your color. And the top has a little white ball that's perfect for chewing on. (Yeah, I'm one of those gross people who chew pens. I have long since confessed to an oral fixation. So let that serve as a warning if you plan on trying to steal my pens.)

Yeah, those pens were the ultimate in cool when you were in elementary school.

Anyway, I had this whole conversation with the chick about it. We were both giggling like little kids.

At first, I started reflecting about the obsession most of us (or at least most people I know) have with office supplies. Get new pens, new post-it notes, a new purple stapler or gel wrist-rest mouse pad, and we're happy for days. It even gets to the point that when you're having a bad day, you go do retail therapy in the supply room. ("Oh, look!! It's a new kind of roller-ball deluxe and some turquoise marble mini Post-Its and fine point green liquid-ink hi-liters!! That almost makes up for the suck-ass shit I have to do when I go back to my desk!!")

However, then I started wondering where this obsession starts. Are we all trying to recapture something from childhood? I mean, I personally don't know too many folks that had really happy childhoods. But one consistently good memory that most people seem to have is buying school supplies and being excited at the fresh crayons and new paper and pencils without teeth marks and new pencil box or bag. It represented a clean slate, starting over, having another chance.

As an adult, you really don't get that chance. Unless you are in the education field, you don't get a long hiatus from work to recharge your batteries and start over. And if you do get that chance, it's usually because something bad has happened, like a lay-off or a firing or a horrible situation that forced you into quitting a job before you found a new one. So instead of enjoying the fresh start, you're stressed out and fearful about what you could lose, rather than looking forward to what you can learn and what you can gain.

So, I think that's why we raid the supply room. We may not have a new job or a new desk, but we can by-god have a new organizer tray and some virgin pens and bright post-its. It's like redecorating your house, only it's free.

Okay. Back to work. We had a meeting this morning at which (gasp, choke) actual information was conveyed, and said information means I'm going to have to do more work and less fucking around. Yuck.

But first, I'm going to see if they have any more pastel-fluorescent Post-It flags. And perhaps some of my favorite pens. And some extra-large Super Sticky Notes. And a pink highlighter. And...

At least it's not fattening, right?



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