The hole-punch is the worst. I’ve seen people manipulate those metallic beasts with feline agility and even, on the odd occasion, pleasure. Some people slash neat holes in the A4 and then file the pages in a binder without even a broken nail. These people rarely chop holes into the side of the pages that render the original, signed page useless and unable to file. Put simply, they are office geniuses. I am not one of those people and the hole-punch is just the first example.
My first few days in the office at my new admin gig in northern Alberta, Canada, were illuminating and showed how I was truly inept with paper clips and all other office paraphernalia. Except post-its, I have those under control.
I tried to get off on the front foot with my new colleagues. I’ll make them a coffee, I thought, and set about utilizing the American-style coffee machine. Now, I spent three years making coffee to pay my way through university and I developed an ego as large as the rest of the baristas out there. Surely one of those filter things would be easy? Well, actually, apparently there’s a bit of an art to it. And more is not necessarily better in terms of coffee beans, or whatever those coffee things are they have over here. But at least everyone in the office noticed how bad my coffee was as the boys put on a real show and dance to pour my heartfelt gesture into the dregs bottle. Too much coffee, apparently. But I could have sold it for $50 a barrel. They laughed and laughed and I was banned from making coffee. A few short days later, I smoked the entire crew out with some over-zealous sausage-roll microwaving. Not the most popular lunch option when the windows need to be opened to remove the acrid smoke and it’s -25 outside.
Perhaps the biggest issue is the paper cuts. Occasionally I lose track of my thought while handling paper and I forget about the sharp edges on those shiny white sheets. Before I can register that the paper has moved from my lap to my lip, boom, I’ve torn my chin apart and look more foolish than a bird flying the wrong direction to hibernate.
Then there are paper clips. For some reason, my hands believe that paper clips should not be left intact. They need to be gently torn apart with the sort of reserved delicacy that is usually adopted when handling precious flowers. Then, suddenly, once the thing has broken in half and has a sharp edge, I’ve shoved it beneath my fingernail with more force than you’d see in the cattle yards during branding. The skin underneath my nail stains burgundy and, once again, I’m left to ponder how I became so absent-minded.
Then there’s the hole-punch drama, where the corners of important documents are sent to me for filing and returned with crinkle-cut edges that would make a chip cutter jealous. The hole-puncher also gets jammed up with small devil-natured circles of paper that can’t be dislodged, even with a spear-shaped paperclip. And the whole time my temper is gradually rising, as if the drama of the poorly punched paper is truly more tragic than the Australian government’s current policy on refugees. It’s easy to lose perspective in the office.
But I have become a morning person. Every day I jump out of bed at 5.30am and prepare to face another 11 hours at the computer screen. I’ve actually become accustomed to the early mornings, but it still freaks me out that I get up so early and still don’t get to see the sunrise as I’m stuck in a large storage container that masquerades as an office. It’s like going to the grocery store and coming home with a few empty boxes.
There is one thing that makes the whole day worthwhile – the post-it shenanigans. There is no office dilemma that cannot be solved with a post-it note message that spreads across three computer screens.