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Although inanimate, office supplies are not passive objects merely caught up in your everyday enslavement, they are party to the torture and in some cases, significantly intensify the hardship. Every day, 16 people in the US are sent for psychiatric assessment after tangling with a paper jam or trying to replace an ink cartridge and 21 people are severely injured by paperclips. Neither of those statistics are actually true, but I have no doubt there are similar figures out there. Below are 5 of the worst culprits for conjuring extreme fury in the office.
It goes without saying that paper is an incredibly useful resource and whether you want to jot down some notes, print an important document or construct an epic paper plane complete with engineered wing tips, it can accommodate your needs. Where it becomes annoying, however, is when there never seems to be enough. When you don’t need any, it piles up on your desk like a rustling mountain and fresh new packets sit on the shelf above the printer in all their pristine glory. But as soon as you decide to print a long document or need a completely fresh piece for a caricature drawing of a colleague, the printer will always run out of paper and every new piece of paper will have a useless file path printed on the back thanks to someone who couldn’t be bothered to delete the blank lines at the end of their Word document and thus added an extra unnecessary page.
I think we should all use portable whiteboards and be done with it. Just hang one around our neck and then when we need to write something, we’ve got a canvas right there. It would also have the added benefit of saving the environment. After all, forests are cut down all over the world just so you can make a note about having to remember to book an eye test. Proud of yourself?
I guarantee that if you walk around the office and ask every single one of your colleagues for some scissors, no-one will be able to brandish a pair (unless they had a troubled past). I’m convinced scissors are sentient and scuttle off to secret scissor bars at night, leaving offices bereft of cutting implements. Either that or someone in my office is collecting sharp objects, which can’t be a good thing.
How else am I supposed to make paper snowflakes when I should be writing important reports? You simply can’t don’t get that satisfying glide/cut motion – you know what I’m referring to – when you rip instead of cutting. I’ve often considered creating a stationery belt and attaching a pair of scissors, permanently ready for deployment at my waist, but then I remembered that if I fell down some stairs, they’d kill me.
Probably the most openly derided office supply, printers and their precious ink are hated for good reasons. More expensive than cut diamonds, new ink cartridges run out as soon as you print anything with a picture. There’s nothing quite as infuriating as printing off an important business document only for it come out faded and riddled with strange CMYK lines. Or for one half of a document to come out perfect while the other half looks like a badly preserved ancient scroll.
Replacing cartridges is just as annoying as forking out the cash for new ones and despite the supposed lack of ink, there’s always still enough to coat your fingers with a deep black and splash droplets on your crisp white shirt. Samir, Michael and Peter had the right idea when they took a baseball bat to their printer in Office Space and I’m pretty sure millions of people fight back the urge to do the same every day.
Who really needs paperclips? When I need to keep sheets of paper together I either staple them or put them in a plastic sleeve. At no point have I thought “Where are my paperclips? Where are my god damn Paperclips!?” Using paperclips to keep sheets of paper together is about as effective as licking the back of a new flat-screen television and trying to stick it to a wall.
Furthermore, they seem to get everywhere. One seemingly tiny pot of paperclips is actually a bottomless source of annoyance and you’ll find them around the office for all of eternity. Even in places that no-one has ever been. If you prise open the basement door, which has been closed off since 1905, there’ll be at least a few paperclips lying around down there. They’re like wiry rats. Every office also has a serial paper clip bender who twists them into ridiculous shapes – fish, people, letters etc – and leaves them in front of their computer. The only rational response to seeing a display like this is to sweep everything from their desk onto the floor in one swift arm movement.
People with expensive writing implements covet them like swords and wax lyrical about their superiority. Let’s just get one thing straight here: nobody cares about premium grip, resin barrels or any mention of titanium. No-one. The only time an expensive pen is needed is during the signing of an important document in a film. Give me a cheap biro any day. Handing over £300 for a pen is insanity. Why not spend £200 and give the remainder to a homeless person? With £100 they could turn their lives around and get into the office supply business.
My advice would be to do away with traditional office supplies and bring in new, exciting alternatives that are less likely to give you a heart attack. Expensive pens? Replace them with laser pens. Paper? Give everyone an etch-a-sketch. Trust me, everyone in your office will be happier and more productive as a result.