Monday, March 12, 2012

Can I get a stapler?

The next time you walk to your office supply closet and grab three extra packs of post-it notes, and a color coded pack of paper clips, please remember your lesser siblings in academia.

            Tired of schlepping my stapler from home, passively resisting buying another, forlorn for the days of corporate office supplies, and frustrated by even putting this much thought into locating a flippin’ stapler on a community college campus, I walk into the English Education Office.
            “Hi Sue*, is this a good time?” Sue looks at me, disgruntled that I have interrupted her perpetual conversation with the other administrative coordinator.
            “Of course Kate,” she mocks. “What do you need?”
            “Well, if it isn’t too much, I was wondering if I could get a stapler –“
            “Don’t you have one? Didn’t I already give you one?”
            “Ah, no actually," I retreat. "I just stopped schlepping my one from home, and I thought if there was an extra –"
            “Well, I normally only provide for the full time staff.”
            Sue: One. Kate: Zero.
            “Oh yes,” my part-time self, who teaches just as potent classes, grovels, “but I was wondering if there was any chance that there was an extra stapler around.”
            “Normally I give the lecturers one stapler and they leave it on the desk and share,” Sue assesses my contracted gold standard.
            “Oh I see,” I bite my words and slip them through my teeth, “but I am not in this building. I am in the other building and the kids have been having difficulty. There’s no stapler in the classroom, or in the library -"
            “I don’t furnish the library. Are you going to leave the stapler there? I don’t think I have any.”
            “Oh no, no,” I  plea to the officiator of office supplies and quickly redirect my supplicant ways, “ I just wondered if there was an extra one; I have bought all the other supplies I use, and I thought if there were one laying around, you know John,” the history adjunct that she adores because he is a full fledged government employ who graces the campus, “doesn’t have a stapler either and we share an office. So he needs one, too.”
            Sue’s hand, not on the locked supply cabinet, turns.
             “I mean, we would share one.”
            “Oh, for the two of you to share in the office?”
            “Well, I’ll look but I doubt I have, oh, well: Here. I have one,” Sue reaches the stapler out to me but clearly has not decided to let it go.
            “I will carry it with me to and from class.”
            “You should mark it. With the Language Department,” she demonstrates where for my half employed intelligence.
            “Oh, I will. Good idea.”
            “Here’s the box.”
            “Thank you.
            “You should keep it.”
            “Would you like me to return it in the box?”
            I walk back to my office, not bothering to turn on the lights as one is almost out, and it courts apoplectic headaches. Sitting at my desk, I wonder if there will ever be a time when education is revered, even if only by the world of academia, or will this fight for hierarchy continue through common areas and course schedules, through rumor mills and re-structured salary scales?  But, it’s ten minutes to class: it doesn’t matter. Teachers never do it for the money, but we do appreciate the staplers.

*Of course, that is not Sue’s real name.


Kathy said...

You've unearthed the nut of education's woes through the teeth of the stapler. Your pebble will have ripples. As always and in all ways, ever proud of my offspring.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha!!! Classic... Kate, I'm glad you are still teaching there... I'm still teaching in DC. Staplers are unlimited here but so are threats. :)

Wisdom of One said...

Thanks Vee. Watch out for flying objects in DC.