Writing left handed

An Ode to Office Supplies

God, I love Staples.  In preparation for the Writers Conference, I went to Staples every day last week (on Saturday, it was a package of “fiesta” colored binder clips—an absolute essential in the publishing industry; Sunday: a new flash drive, except that Staples was closed by the time my old USB stick decided to commit suicide; Monday: a new flash drive, for real this time—however did Jane Austen manage without? And finally Tuesday: index cards). 

Today I went to print out the first three chapters of my book (at the request of a New York agent!) but I can never spend less than $20 in Staples.  As such, I headed from the Copy and Print Center to the packaging supplies aisle, where I bought serious-looking envelopes to convey that I am a serious writer.   

I wish I could live at Staples.  In fact, if not for my abject hatred of the retail industry, I would get a job at Staples.  But you have to know about computers to work at Staples, and I don’t.  Also, you have to not hate customers, and I don’t.  So it’s probably just as well. 

On my way home, I tried to figure out why I like office supplies so much.  It’s a bit weird… but it’s also a bit weird that I love sitting in airports.  And that my favorite days in the Cash Office are those in which The Shop takes in enough $20 bills that I can stack them into groups of $2,000 and bind them with the little purple strips from the bank (I hate it when we take in, say, only $1,800 in $20 bills, because then I don’t get to use the little purple strip.  Then, I have to use a yellow strip, flipped upside down so as to not confuse the bank tellers, and I have to put the twenties with the tens and hundreds, all of which I find thoroughly dissatisfying).   

I have reached the following conclusions:

I like stacking $20 bills because I am OCD.

I like sitting in airports because the most exciting moments of life have always involved going somewhere.  Plus, when I sit down at the Starbucks in Heathrow with my carryon and my laptop, projecting to any and all interested parties that I am “on assignment,” I can’t help but feel very chic, cosmopolitan.  Very un-cashier like.

As for Staples, it’s not just the fluorescent sticky tabs or the recycled bubble wrap mailers.  It’s the promise of organization—it’s what the fluorescent sticky tabs can do for you.  And with greater organization comes greater productivity, and with greater productivity comes, well, anything.

Including the landing of an agent, which is why I’ve become a number one customer at Staples.  I really ought to join the Staples Rewards Program, which is, as far as I can tell, the same as The Shop’s Customer Loyalty Program.  But then I’d become one of those Stupid Sally types.  I’d forget to bring my card with me and when the poor cashier asks for my zip code I’ll give her my phone number. 

My days in retail may be numbered but having served my time behind the register, I am going to be nicest, most polite, Super Sweet Sympathetic Sally that So’ Philly has ever seen.

5 Responses to “An Ode to Office Supplies”

  1. Your Landlord

    That is why EVERYONE should be made to work one summer in retail while in high school or college, it definitely makes you a better customer, although it also makes you more critical of horrible cashiers…maybe if there could be a designated register for these two (Stupid Sallys and Self-righteous reggie operators…) the world, or at least the retail world, would be a better place 😉

  2. Cody

    staples looks it up by phone number…they are happy to look it up since the cards rarely work anyway and its easier for them then having to say “would you like to sign up” and explain the benefits…especially if their bad cop is around…so get one already. lol

  3. Cody

    o yea but give them the house phone number…the 732 will through them off since they probably already keyed int he 215…..in Wilkes we were 570 and it always made us have to go back if it was another area code. the cashier generaly assumes ur skipping the 215 if u start with other numbers.

  4. becky119

    Staples is one of the greatest places in the world. I know exactly how you feel. There is just something about office supplies.

    I have very recently discovered your blog and had to go to the very beginning because I so enjoy your witty writing. This is my first comment and I feel compelled to leave it because the more I read your blog the more I want to go out for drinks with you. lol.

    I am a writer that was also forced to work retail after college (thankfully something better came along), I love how down-to-Earth your writing is and how fun, and I am completely OCD when it comes to things like organizing ribbon or buying the perfect office supplies to go with my writing. I am a big fan of the color pink and my day is always a little brighter when I find myself walking down Market St on my way to work with my pink purse/backpack, my pink kindle case, my pink iphone case, and my pink notebook. Super pink coordination. I also have my own personal library that has been organized alphabetically and is scanned into the library program I have on my computer (yes, there is an app too!! Collectorz.com).

    Your blog is a lot of fun, I cannot wait to see where it goes. I’m considering expanding my own blog, right now it is exclusively book and movie reviews. Telling personal stories is never something I considered, but your writing is so much fun that I am having second thoughts.

    • Kat Richter

      Thanks so much, Becky– I always love comments but especially writer-to-writer comments! That library scanning program sounds AMAZING, btw. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog 🙂


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