Jan 09, 2018, 10:10AM

The Inner Lives of My Office Supplies

Oliver Bateman explores the inner lives of his office supplies.

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The dysfunctional family that is our HI-LITER collection: We all know that Yellow is the favorite. They use her so often they’ve nearly bled her dry. It makes us jealous, and even she would like a break. Can’t they hear her groan each time they scrape her flat felt head against a bunch of unimportant words?

Why not Purple sometimes? Why not Blue or Green? It’s because we’re too heavy, they say. We upstage what truly matters: all those pointless words.

Why not Pink? At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, Pink makes you look like a psycho—if you’re a man, you’ll never make full professor, and if you’re a woman, you might as well have a Barbie Dream House at your desk. And just you try climbing that administrative ladder with a BDH parked in your cubicle! Times might be changing, but not fast enough for Pink.

Fair enough, but why not Orange? Orange is only one off from Yellow. Not too dark, and not too Barbie.

I’ll tell you why not Orange. Because Yellow is “classic.” Yellow is tradition. People will purchase the variety pack, but they will always only use Yellow. It has always been thus, and thus it will always be. Sic semper, Bic semper.

Unused Scotch tape with lint on it: I was so happy when you arrived. Finally, I thought, I will fulfill my destiny. Day after day, I waited to find my purpose. And you silently rebuffed me, time and time again. I understand most of the time. I mean, it’s an online world—who the heck uses paper these days, let alone Scotch tape? And am I truly Scotch? I don’t feel Scotch. But then, does a person ever feel the blood of their ancestors within them, or is that just part of the package, the persona we conjure for ourselves—“You know me and my fiery, Oliver O’Bateman Irish temper!” “We devour khachapuri because we’re ethnically Georgian!” “I love Jell-O so much because I am Mormon!”

With time, dust motes settled on my adhesive underside, then a small piece of lint, and I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to appear less than perfect to you. Do you know how much I love you? Who but me gazes at your face—by turns concentrated, bloated, weary, low-blood-sugar-y—for eight hours of the day and never, never tires of it?

No one else.

University phone directory: What are you looking for? Buddy, I got it! Pick an associate professor’s name, any associate professor’s name—I got their office number! I can put you in touch—I can help you connect! Feeling lonely? Come to me; I contain multitudes. I can even show you where the emergency exits are located. It’s not what you asked for, but I can do it! Oh, and that personal injury attorney’s full-page advertisement on my back cover is a beaut!

And when you’re angry, you can tear me apart. I guarantee it’s a fun party trick that all your acquaintances will love. They’ll watch you rip me apart, and they’ll never doubt you again. I can’t give you what you want, but I’ll provide everything you need. 


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