Friday, December 11, 2009

What NOT to buy at Staples

Staples is my favorite office supply store. They have everything, at good prices. However, there are some desk essentials you should not buy there: paper clips and staples. Why? Because they slap their brand label on everything.

Every time I am low on refill staples, I check the shelf under the printer, and what do I see? Sure enough, there is a large box labeled “Staples.” So I figure, no problem, I am well supplied. But actually, it is paper clips, and I am out of staples.

Once in a while I remember this little conundrum and so I explicitly put “staples” on my shopping list. However, once at the store, I inevitably buy paper clips, because they are easier to find and they say “Staples” on the box.

I am chronically “long” on paper clips because I am always buying them when I am out of staples. Also, when I run low on paper clips at my desk, I look on the shelf, and see only boxes labeled “staples.” So naturally, next time I am out, I buy paper clips.

So forget Staples for your paper clips, too. If you need paper clips, call me, I have plenty.

Finally, I should just mention these related perplexities: 1. Why do you always run out of staples right when you need one? The stapler goes empty at the exact moment when you are squeezing finality to that critical report. Click! Out of staples. That is infuriating. The stapler never goes empty in the middle of the night when no one would be bothered. No. Only when it matters most.

And 2: Where do paper clips go? Why do we have to buy them at all? I always save and re-use them, unless they are badly distorted. Most people do the same. So why is there inevitably a net shortage of paper clips? Is there some undocumented law of paper clip entropy?