Monday, June 21, 1999

The Great Stapler Incident

Early in the week I was preparing some important documents to mail. One of the documents was several pages in length so I decided I needed to fasten the pages together. Unfortunately I did not have a stapler at home. So I moseyed on across the street to the drug store carrying with me only a five dollar bill figuring that would be more than enough to cover the costs. I soon discovered the only stapler the store had was one that cost $5.49 (a bright pink one!) so I scampered back home, grabbed some change and went back.

Sure, the cost seemed a tad pricy but you don't have much of a choice when you have to try and hold something together. After bringing my newly purchased stapler back home I opened it to discover that it didn't come with any staples included. I didn't especially want to go back a third time to the drug store so I pondered my options and since I needed some groceries I hopped in my badly fender dented car and drove down to the grocery store hoping they would have what I needed. I had a difficult time locating staples but I knew the store carried some office supplies. I couldn't even find the Scotch tape so I knew I hadn't found the right area. When I finally found the right aisle I saw a lot of empty racks. The only staples they were the tiny kind, not sufficient to fit in my big shiny bright pink device.

After further contemplation and a bit of cursing I decided the entire project could wait another day. So the next day I went back to the drug store, bought some staples, brought them home and opened up the stapler and the box of staples only to discover they too were the wrong size. All this trouble for one measly staple, one piece of tiny metal merely to hold it all together!

For a moment I thought I might try something a little radical, show some initiative and build my own homemade staple. Being a history major I knew that back in the olden days, before the invention of fancy contraptions like a stapler, documents were either tied together, bound, or held together by a pin. (Is there any connection between the word "staple" and the one of the functions of the device- to stabilize/hold together?) (Does anybody know who DID invent the stapler? The Oakland Raiders used to have a quarterback named Kenny "the Snake" Stabler, but I doubt he had anything to do with it.) I searched my house for a pin but came up empty. I tried to think of other thin metal strips I might be able to use. It finally dawned on me that the time I was wasting trying to be innovative was probably better spent at the drug store. Plus the document I wanted to send was of some importance and a good professional look was important. A person can certainly undo a lot of work contentwise with a sloppy presentation.

So again I got into my sad looking car and went to Walgreens (which is a mile from the trusty neighborhood drug store across the street). There I found a multitude of staples, but the size I needed only came in a big whopping box. Now at a point of near desperation I bought the box, way more than I needed, because I never wanted to have to go through the experience ever again. When I got back home I stapled my document with more than a little gusto. I marveled at how far our stapling technology has come over the years. Many staplers give you that two option system, either the conventional staple with its ends bent neatly inward, or the more eccentric option of having the ends bent towards the outside. Streamlined and thin, you hardly ever see people take the time to admire a good stapling job.

Operating on a staple thin budget these days, the whole purchase process probably wasn't the most efficiently conducted. Maybe one single trip to say, OfficeMax would have sufficed and saved me time and money in the first place? Now I'm left with many extra staples and it makes me staple happy wanting to get my money's worth and affix all my many papers together. At the very least I can comfort myself with the secure knowledge that if that Y2K thing affects staplers, I'll have a healthy stash so things won't completely fall apart anymore than they tend to naturally do.

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