The Well-Stocked Writer: My Love for and Hoarding of Paper, Pencils and All Things Office Supply

I have a confession to make. I like office supplies. I mean, really like them to the point that I eagerly pore over the Staples Sunday circular, much like a teenage boy studies his mother’s Victoria’s Secret catalog.

I have a drawer full of assorted pads of paper given to me by people who enable my habit, advertising everything from trucking companies to the ASCPA. I admire the logos, the pictures of adorable cats and dogs as I write my To Do lists on them.

One year when my sister-in-law asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I answered, “An electric pencil sharpener.” She raised her eyebrows and said, “Are you sure?” I love my Boston Powerhouse. I put in a dull, flat number 2 and thrill to the motor grinding away at that little log with the roar of a miniature wood chipper. And out comes this sleek, dangerous looking tool, ready to do some serious work.

In my closet are boxes of copy paper, envelopes, staples, paper clips, and cheerful balls of rubber bands, all more than I could use in a decade. But they are there, in my possession when I need them. I am a well-stocked writer, prepared for anything.

I have a favorite eraser – it’s smooth and pink and I use it like a worry stone, holding it in my hand, flipping it around and around, tapping it, as I think and write. When I can’t find it, I panic and feel like I am missing a finger. So I hide several of these erasers just in case my husband or my son absconds with mine.

My husband just sighs when I bring home more pens (Papermate Write Bros., medium, blue) and stuff them into my already crammed desk organizer. I have envelopes that have resided with me for over twenty years and came along for the ride when I moved from Chicago. In this day of email and internet banking, I don’t use them very often, but they have been with me for so long, I consider them a part of the family. And I feel sorry for them-not needed like they used to be. I also have greeting cards that have sat at the bottom of a desk drawer since Y2K. I thought they were funny at the time, but now I don’t know who to send them to. Every so often I take them out and read them, just for old time’s sake. Occasionally, I will attempt to cull through my collection of office supplies, but all I manage to do is rearrange them, put them back to bed, and close the closet door.

This “all things office supply” obsession began when I was in elementary school. Getting new school supplies was as exciting as getting new Maryjanes. I covered my books with cut up brown paper grocery sacks and lovingly decorated them with my new, unbroken crayons. Black and white composition books-what a joy! All clean and ready for me to write “What I Did on Summer Vacation,” and paste in pictures of Brazilian Exports and Animals of Africa for geography class.

One day I achieved office supply nirvana. My husband called to tell me that a business near his company was closing and they were Throwing Away Most of the Contents of the Office! I needed to come right away before the things were loaded on the dumpster and hauled away. I felt like I had won the office supply lottery. Off I drove, as fast as I legally could, frantic to give a home to those orphaned items.

OMG, what a treat! We completely outfitted my husband’s home office with a wraparound desk, file cabinets, and storage units. Then I moved on to the small stuff, dozens of padded packing envelopes, boxes of paper (yesss!) and other assorted accoutrements. I was like a shark in a feeding frenzy, snatching perfectly good, free stuff that would take me until retirement to use up.

I haven’t tried to reform myself of my office supply hoarding habit. We all have our quirks and I have had mine too long to want to change. Besides, as long as I have a place for my stuff, who am I hurting? At least it’s useful items, unlike the ceramic pig collection I started years ago until it got out of hand. I didn’t enjoy it when friends gifted me with kitschy porcine figurines while gushing, “I saw this pig and thought of you.”

I thought I was the only one with a peculiar attraction to office supplies until my sister happened to mention one day that her husband had drawers full of pads, paper and writing utensils. I smiled broadly-I had company!

So when I go to the nearby Staples or Office Max store to wander the aisles, admiring the works-of-art Mont Blanc pens (not for me, too snobby, but pretty to look at), the various designs of stationary that few people use anymore, and the plethora of notebooks, labels and writing tools lining the shelves, I don’t feel alone. I look into the eyes of those around me, wondering if they, too, are here for the same reason-to gaze upon the loveliness of all things office.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *