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My Stapler! No Touchie!

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If you’ve never seen Office Space, you need to stop what you’re doing, whatever it is, and rent it immediately. It really should own it’s own spot in your movie collection. For those who have seen it before, you’ll know who Milton is. (Here’s a soundboard just for fun.)

If you work in an office, you’ll be able to appreciate this movie. One of the supporting characters is a poor guy named Milton Waddams. His office keeps getting moved around, until he eventually ends up in the basement. He hasn’t gotten a paycheck in six months because he was fired, but nobody bothered to tell him. He gets treated very poorly by nearly everyone throughout the entire movie. But it isn’t until his boss takes away his stapler that he finally snaps.

This is how I feel about my stapler.

I work for a small produce company in the southern end of California’s Silicon Valley. I share an office with a guy named Antoin. Antoin and I have been working together for the better part of 3 or 4 years. We both worked at a pizza parlor a few years ago where I was his manager. When I left to begin working my office job at the produce company, I brought him along with me since he was the best employee I’d ever had. Even though he did excellent work at the pizza parlor, our time together at the produce company has been strained from time to time.

Mostly the strain has been due to the “stapler issue”, as we call it. If you need to staple a few papers together, you’d use the regular stapler, right? And if you had a giant stack of papers to staple together you’d use the giant stapler, right? This is simple, common sense stuff. Antoin just doesn’t get it when it comes to the staplers.

I have seen him take a stack of papers an inch-and-a-half thick (approx 3 cm), and try to staple them with a normal stapler. After a few tries, his stapler is completely mangled. He’s ruined his own stapler, so he has to deal with it. Then I come to work the next morning to find that my stapler is also completely mangled, and won’t staple anything properly.

We used to work almost the same shift, during which I could keep an eye on my stapler, and inform him when his papers needed the “big stapler”. I had the same stapler for a year-and-a-half with no problems. These days, we work nearly opposing shifts, so I am not as able to oversee the use of my stapler by other people. I have now gone through 13 staplers in the last 3 months. He’s my friend… a good friend at that… but I’m going to kill him if he ever touches my stapler again.

I went online and found a picture of Milton’s face, as well as a picture of the Emporer and the Llama from “The Emporer’s New Groove”. I created a label out of them with the words “MY STAPLER. NO TOUCHIE!” I stuck the label onto the handle of my stapler, believing that it would be painfully obvious that it was my stapler, so don’t touch it. I was wrong. Two days after I applied the label, I had another mangled stapler.

I’ve asked him to not use my stapler, and he’ll say okay. I’ll go to the restroom and come back to see him stapling another stack of papers. Apparently he forgot… again… forgot. I’ve started taking my stapler home with me so that he can’t get to it when I’m not there. Sometimes I forget to grab it before I leave the house in the morning, and I’m stuck going all day without a much needed stapler. Sometimes I forget to bring it home with me, and the next morning it’s dead, just like all the staplers before it.

Before I go and beat Antoin to a bloody pulp, I’m interested in hearing suggestions of things I can do to keep my sanity. If he touches my stapler again, I’m gonna lose it. I really am…

Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.