let’s discuss sacred office supplies

Thanks to a reader for this idea: “What supplies or equipment at your office are as untouchable as a holy relic, despite having no discernible function in the 21st century? What supplies do people inexplicably hoard, or somehow lead to epic battles for control?”

Let’s discuss in the comment section.

{ 1,073 comments… read them below }

  1. Meg*

    I got really really tired of people swiping post-it notes off my desk, so I went out and bought black post-its that require a colored gel pen to actually see anything on them. They stopped going missing after that. >:)

    1. AVP*

      heh. At an old job my stapler kept disappearing, so I brought in my own really cool one — that only used smaller non-standard-size staples.

      1. Nicole T*

        When I started a 100% work from home gig years ago (past job), I bought myself a red Swingline. That is now my home stapler I rarely use for current work stuff. I recently bought a tiny matching one I can take on the go for volunteering stuff. I will burn down the world before I give up my red stapler.

        My current editing gig is completely digital, but I still keep a copy of our old style guide (new version is digital) and a print Merriam-Webster dictionary at my desk. I never use them, but it feels weird not to have them!

        1. Jules*

          At my old job I requested a red Swingline stapler. I wish I’d taken it with me when I left…

          I read somewhere that when they filmed Office Space, the props department painted a black Swingline red because Swingline didn’t make a red one at the time. After the movie came out, they got so many requests for it that they started making red ones.

          1. HappyEveryDayNow*

            I love my red Swingline stapler! It’s from an early career job (circa 1984) and now my home office go-to that I’ll never give up.

        2. Not my usual*

          I work for a GIS (geographic coordinate system/mapping/data) software company. I still have multiple atlases that I use to check boundaries, locations of tiny island possessions and countries, etc. It’s just faster sometimes than checking our own online data and/or finding decent maps from other providers.

          I also have a very old UNIX for Dummies (Quick Reference) book (1997) that is used for the multiple tips&tricks written on the inside covers! I did look up something this month.

        3. Aphra*

          I’m in the UK and when I read your post I couldn’t understand why you’d be so attached to a red stapler. I was thinking “well, I’d always choose a sensible black stapler but let’s look online to see what a red Swingline stapler has that’s so spec…. [sound of angels singing] ah, NOW I understand.”

    2. Anon Again... Naturally*

      Our office had the same problem. My solution was to back a Kickstarter for magnetic post it sized whiteboard squares. Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive until after we were sent home for Covid, where I no longer had convenient metal seams to stick them too. Work from home became permanent and I’ve never once used them.

      1. Me1980*

        I backed that one, too! They didn’t work for me, but I thought it was such a great idea.

      2. It’s Suzy Now*

        TV writers rooms switched to magnetic dry erase “index cards“ almost 10 years ago, I’m surprised this needed to be kickstarted. I think you can just buy them. Although since the company was buying them, I have no idea what they cost.

      1. dawbs*

        My smartphone has my RPN calculator emulator so I don’t have to re-learn how to use other calculators.
        (I’ll also share that when we got married, repeatedly, my husband asked for a calculator and was handed that hp and I converted him, so he has to have the hp app on his phone too, and he didn’t even learn them young)

      1. Oh yeah, Me again*

        I have an old Swingline “Tot’ at home that is my only stapler there. I’ll continue to use it as long as I can fine staples to fit. It never jams, that I recall.

        1. Willow Sunstar*

          I have a red Swingline. Yes, I’m an Office Space fan. Sadly, I can only show it off at home now, used to live on my desk pre-COVID.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I love my “scratch” lab book where I write down what I’m doing, where I take notes on things, etc. But I also buy them for myself because I want fun and fancy ones, and it’s a minimal expense (I also buy ones for home use at the same time, so I have quite a collection).

    2. Science Liege*

      We still use paper notebooks where I work. They refuse to switch to ELN. It is so frustrating.

    3. Set999*

      Yes! Though our lab isn’t entirely digital yet, but they did away with “formal” lab notebooks. I have what is basically a branded legal pad that keeps falling apart. It’s greatttt.

    4. SJ Coffee Adict*

      I use a moleskine, I can sketch, put to do lists, take meeting notes. I never leave my desk without it.

    5. Nesprin*

      +1 million- good hard covered lab notebooks with sewn in pages and page numbers are hard to find.

    6. EngineeringFun*

      The size of my lab note books has reduced but must be hard covered so I can walk around and write on it. If it isnt written down, it doesn’t get done!

    7. JustaTech*

      When we gave up our lab notebooks (several years before getting an ELN, hmmm…) They said that as long as we blacked out the company name we could take home as many as we liked, so now I have two, one for my garden and one for recipes/ my sourdough experiments, and I gave a fat stack to a friend who I knew would *love* them for his garden.

      But even now I can’t use them to just “take notes” – I’ve got to have a title and date and purpose on every page. My professors did too well.

    8. Cazaril*

      When my father (a chemist) died, I found a number of unused small lab books in his effects. I grabbed a couple to have for general use as a memorial. At work, we use an ELN system and I’m never looking back, but the vintage lab notebooks make me smile!

  2. Viki*

    Office supplies: Sharpie markers, I have no clue why they’re currency.

    Branded office: the really cheap sunglasses. I have no clue why my company ordered branded sunglasses like we’re a university freshman class, but those were impossible to find after like 30 minutes

    1. Ipsissima*

      Us too! We have plenty of supplies on hand, the admin assistant is very prompt with reordering, and yet I cannot keep a single sharpie on my desk for more than a day.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When you need a Sharpie, nothing else will do!

        I pack up records for storage. Ballpoints are useless on the boxes.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      My husband had problems with Sharpies getting ‘borrowed’ at work and not replaced. I told him to get a pink Sharpie and swap the pink cap onto his black pen in order to make it not look like it’s what someone wants to use.

      1. AnonPi*

        My former admin used to do this with pens, she’d buy the ones that were pink for breast cancer awareness, but they still wrote black.

        1. Not The Earliest Bird*

          I do this. I have my pink Pilot G-2 pens. Everyone knows their mine. If they’re on someone else’s desk, they got swiped from me (or more likely I left it there).

        2. Random Dice*

          See, finally there’s a reason for the more-expensive girrrlwashed supplies in this world. To fight office theft!

      2. Chocoholic*

        Not so much at work, but at home I try to get everything I can in pink. Nobody else wants to borrow my pink Hydroflask, my kids didn’t want to play on my phone with the pink case when they were smaller, etc. It definitely keeps my stuff from walking away with my family members.

        1. Kelly White*

          My big burly electrician brother has a set of pink flowered handled screwdrivers for work. He says no-one steals them!

          1. NotJane*

            I used to work an admin job at a commercial roofing company and my office supplies keep disappearing until I swapped everything to pink – stapler, staple remover, pens, post-its, legal pads, etc!

            1. Anon for a Moment*

              When I was still teaching (university students), I occasionally would get burly guys who thought that I (a wee woman) was somehow unworthy to teach them and made that belief known in various ways in class. I would grade their papers in the most obnoxious shades of pink possible because I could see their embarrassment at carrying around a paper with pink ink all over it. (Ah, toxic masculinity…)

      3. BlondeSpiders*

        Brilliant. This is also an old chef’s trick. Works wonders in male-dominated kitchens.

        I am all for using the patriarchy against those who perpetrate it. :)

        1. I Am Not An Engineer*

          In any big touring rock show, the backpacks that hold headsets, belt packs and lighting gels for the local crew spotlight operators are always, without fail, pink and sparkly little girls’ school bags. Unicorns, Dora The Explorer, My Little Pony, etc.

          Keeps them from getting stolen. Draw your own conclusions.

          1. Possum's Mom*

            Ahhh yes, my roadie days, when the first thing you learn is to NEVER LET ANYONE “BORROW” YOUR GAFFER’S TAPE during stage setup. It will vanish like Brigadoon, as will the person who says “I”ll be right back with it”.

            1. Sharpiecollector*

              And if you lend someone a sharpie (and they have to be a really good friend before I’ll even consider it), keep the lid and give them the pen – much less likely to lose it that way

            2. Jay*

              You can get that in purple.
              I run the shop at the company I work for and anything that might grow legs either gets our name stenciled on it or covered in bright, Radioactive Barny The Dinosaur, purple duct tape.

      4. LikesToSwear*

        When I worked for a roofer, my good pens would constantly disappear because the boss would grab one, leave it in his truck (he was usually in the field), and repeat so frequently I would make him give me his keys on a regular basis and clean out his truck.

        I eventually bought green floral tape and small silk flowers and decorated the top half of a couple of pens. They never disappeared again – he wouldn’t touch them! It was great! And they were refillable, so I was able to buy refills instead of completely new pens all the time.

      5. Bitte Meddler*

        Not work, but when I had both of my bathrooms remodeled at the same time, I arranged for a Port-a-Potty to be put in my driveway (back behind the gate, not visible from the street) so I could still live at home during the renovation. Of course, the construction crews used it, too, and . . . ew.

        After several days of being thoroughly grossed out, I printed out pages of coloring book flowers, carefully colored them with markers and colored pencils, cut-and-taped some of them into flower garlands, and then taped all of them up inside the Port-a-Potty so that everywhere you looked there were colorful flowers, like a Victorian sitting room. Lastly, I put up a sign that said, “The homeowner uses this toilet, too!”

        Worked like a charm.

      6. Butterfly Counter*

        I remember a Reader’s Digest funny work story of a woman who worked as the only woman in an auto shop. Her oil rags kept going missing (sounds like the mechanics brought them in themselves) and no one would confess to taking hers. So she got a new batch of rags and sewed lace all around the outside of them. Never had another one get stolen…

      7. Macropodidae*

        At the small company I work for, we lose enough pens that we just buy boxes of misprints. The only ones still on my desk are pink (black ink).

    3. AngryOctopus*

      Solvent resistant lab markers disappear on the regular here. Mostly because if yours dies while you’re in the middle of labelling, you don’t want to walk all the way down to the supply shelves unless it’s necessary. So if someone else has a working one just sitting there…

      1. Jenn*

        Another lab scientist here: use lab tape to label your Sharpie as “biohazard” or “dirty” and they’ll be less likely to swipe it.

        Also for tax, our lab still keeps a paper cutter. We went 90% paperless last year.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Eh, I find people just peel the tape off. They’re like “we all handle the same stuff”. But at least my job keeps a good supply (it’s just being not lazy and walking to get them that’s our problem!).

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          EHS person here: please don’t do that. It’s really important that hazard labels only be used for actual hazards, otherwise people get in the habit of ignoring them.

          1. JSPA*

            I don’t think anyone’s talking about using the actual symbol. In a lab setting, “dirty” can equally mean, “potentially hot” (and lives in the hot hood, in the more completely labeled box); not specially cleaned (a warning about not using it in clean spaces / cell culture); not nuclease-free (if your lab does a lot of RNA-work), etc etc etc.

            The ambiguity is enough to stop it from getting swiped for taking phone messages.

            In some labs, “clean” can do the same.

            IMO, anyone who decides to ignore warnings because they’re not all equally dangerous (for whatever reason) at any one point in time? They’re a walking hazard all by themselves.

            After all, an autoclaved biohazard bag is no longer biohazardous, either.

            Anyone who’d extrapolate from specific instances to “all things marked biohazard” should not be in lab spaces, as there’s no adequate protection for them…nor against them.

            1. Student*

              You work in very casual labs with hazards that are apparently not all that serious. I hope you never start working in a lab with serious hazards.

              In my labs, a pen labeled “dirty” in a lab could cost us thousands of dollars in remediation work, to clean the area for potential contamination, redo lots of work, repurchase supplies that may have been contaminated. A pen that’s just labeled “dirty” to scare people off from stealing it will trigger the same initial contamination control measures as a real “dirty” pen. It’ll eventually be tested, but there will already be consequences merely from finding it.

              At least a dozen people who use the lab will then be forced to go through extra training as to what to do with “dirty” pens lasting, at minimum, an hour.

              Depending on the specific lab, a bunch of people might also be required to undertake medical tests and might be afraid for their health until the results come back, and possibly for the health of their close contacts (like their family).

              I had one guy who belatedly found out from a careless colleague that he’d been standing in an area she had contaminated and not cleaned properly. So he unknowingly had contamination on his shoes. That he had worn home. Where his very young baby decided to play with the shoelaces. They were calling emergency hotlines, rushing the baby to a doctor, rushing the shoes off for analysis, and absolutely besides themselves. The careless colleague got fired. The baby had an unpleasant experience with the necessary treatment, but was ultimately okay.

              1. JSPA*

                If you’re in a BSL2 or BSL3 or BSL4 lab, you know that you are. You also know (or should know) that most labs are not at that level. This is a “not everyone can eat sandwiches” situation.

                Yes–there certainly are labs where this would be completely unacceptable.

                There are 13 actual or planned BSL4 complexes in the entire US. 148 institutions have one or more BSL3 labs.

                In contrast, several US cities have several hundred BSL1 labs.

                So your circumstance, while very real, is not a reason to come down like a hammer on the vast majority of labs where this would be…fine.

      2. WeirdChemist*

        Ugh yes, lab markers and pens never stay where you put them… I had an old lab mate that would rifle through peoples lab coat pockets instead of just walking to the other side of the room to get a new one! I also had some equipment with a paper log book where the pen kept going missing. I ended up tying the pen to the instrument itself, and it occasionally STILL disappeared… the instrument was literally right next to where we kept the supplies! Literally easier to just grab a new one than to untie a pen from a complicated knot!! I don’t get people lol

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I will admit that one time I was nearly out of paperclips, and so I went around the cubicles chanting ‘paperclips for the poor, paperclips for the poor…” and discovered that nobody ever needs to open a new box of them ever again. We don’t have an infinite number of paperclips, but you can see it from here.

    4. Rage*

      Don’t know if it’s still a thing, but about 20 years ago, a local aerospace manufacturer uncovered an illicit drug ring amongst employees, using Sharpie markers for the transfers at work. They took out the tip, drained the marker fluid, rinsed out the inside, put the drug inside, then replaced the tip and cap. Each color had a specific drug/amount attached to it, so people would pay for X grams of Y drug, and then the dealer would simply hand them the Sharpie at some point during the day. Nobody thought twice about employees with Sharpie markers in their pockets.

      I don’t recall how they eventually uncovered it (probably busted someone for smoking it in the parking lot and found a huge supply of markers), and I’m sure everyone got tired of stopping and searching engineers and their writing implements, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it resurfaced repeatedly. And I’m equally sure that it is likely to have evolved separately in a variety of places.

      So, if Sharpies are weirdly a hot commodity…maybe you have a bigger problem?

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Sharpies are a hot item for us because the storage closet for office supplies is on the other side of the facility, and the nature of our work means we are constantly losing/dropping/breaking markers.

        I admit, I have swiped orphaned pens on occasion. if the alternative is putting down everything, taking off my PPE, scrubbing off a bunch of mud, and going a quarter mile out of my way…. I’m just gonna take the pen someone left on the bench.

      2. Teach*

        Huh. This is how I ran a note-passing ring in junior high in the 80’s, but with empty highlighters. I guess I did not take my nefariousness to its full potential!

    5. Nesprin*

      +1 except the alcohol proof lab markers instead of sharpies- those are more precious than gold.

      1. JustaTech*

        Seriously. I am forever taking the Sharpies out to the lab (and putting them in the office) so that people don’t use a Sharpie to label something and then spray it with alcohol and oops, there goes their careful labeling!

      2. JSPA*

        VWR FTW! (And real lab tape. And parafilm.) Seriously, I have privately bought (and hoarded) all of the above.

    6. Elly*

      In my last office, it was the double ended Sharpie markers – fine handwriting tip on one end, and the usual thicker nib on the other. They were like unofficial currency, I could get anything repaired in my office by handing them over!

      My leaving present from the office team was two packs of the Sharpies, and two packs of the giant post-it notes that I love (they are A5 – about half a letter page size for those in the US)

      1. Lpuk*

        I love the giant post it notes. I do facilitation work for clients and every time I request a room set- up, I ask for the really big ones and sharpies ( cos photographing walls of feedback and trying to interpret ballpoint scrawls of tiny post it notes is hard work). They Never have the right size, so I always end up bringing my own – yes even when I’m travelling internationally with cabin bags only)

    7. Project maniac-ger*

      I order supplies for our office and I’m darn near ready to Amazon Subscribe and Save sharpies so we get a new box monthly.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I adore Sharpies, especially new ones. That fat, slick way they glide across the paper is the closest I’ll ever get to being a figure skating champion. Twirl, swirl, sign my name in cursive!

      1. Cherry Sours*

        +1

        I find the fat green sharpies are great for labeling moving boxes, have used them for several moves myself.

  3. Wordnerd*

    I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re asking, since no one is actively hanging on to them now, but every time I have to clean out an old collection of office supplies (which I’ve done a lot in the last few years as my legacy university department keeps moving spaces), I find just bags and bags and heaps and heaps of binder clips. SO MANY BINDER CLIPS. Those and staple removers.

      1. Fives*

        SAME. I’ve had mine for about 15 years. Several years ago, my cube was near the copier and someone would always borrow my stuff. My beloved staple remover disappeared one day. I found it a few months later on a conference room table but slightly damaged. (It’s distinctive enough that I know it was mine.)

        I still use it but I keep it in my drawer even though I’m no longer anywhere near a copier.

        1. coffeespoons*

          YUP. I think I read this on Brunching Shuttlecocks back in the day, and I’ll probably misquote somewhat, but it’s always stuck with me: “For most people, this is the only time your workplace will ever supply you with a working finger puppet.”

          TRUE.

          1. Straight Laced Sue*

            That makes me appreciate that an old workplace actually provided me with working finger puppets.

    1. Jshaen*

      Binder clips and hanging files folders. Enough of both to last until the heat death of universe based on current usage rate.

      1. Wordnerd*

        YES hanging file folders as well. I had two different predecessors who were obsessed with printing everything, including printing out emails for their files. Hence, the many binder clips, staple removers, and hanging file folders.

        1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

          So many green hanging folders. We have been paperless for at least five years. I think they have little parties in the drawers and are breeding more folders.

          1. JustaTech*

            We’ve got mountains of green hanging folders (mostly salvaged from empty desks) but the brilliant people who built the office furniture other brilliant people purchased decided to make the filing drawers not pull out far enough to put in a hanging folder!

            That’s right, in order to file your papers in the file cabinet, which has One Job, you have to fold the pages slightly to be able to fit them in the opening.

            (Horizontal file cabinets, to be clear, not the kind that pull out 4 feet into the room.)

      2. Oh yeah, Me again*

        but the glue on the hanging file-folders dries up and they fall off their metal straps. Then you have to staple them back together. I am surprised you don’t find this a problem with your long-term hoard. Do you just staple them to start with, before putting them into service?

      1. Hannah Lee*

        My current company has a whole shelf full of boxes of paper clips.
        The buyer had ordered a box of 12 boxes of 20 paper clips. The office supply company sent a gross of 12 boxes of 20 paper clips but only billed for the amount that was ordered. And then refused to take them back. It’s been about 10 years, and that shelf is still pretty full. (20 people who do most things electronically don’t go through a lot of paper clips)

        The only problem is, the office supply company was Staples. So the main thing you see when you open the supply cabinet is a shelf filled with dozens and dozens of boxes that say “STAPLES”. So anytime anyone (including me) is doing a quick inventory of office supplies to see if we need anything, their brain shortcuts to “plenty of staples here, no need to order staples” So we repeatedly run out of actual staples.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          omg the same thing happened at my office with staples. The admin tried to order a 12-pack of boxes of staples, and the company sent a gross of 12-packs of staples. So now we have a lifetime supply of them.

          1. Fiend*

            I think you both need to get these things back into the supply-and-demand chain (by donating some of the excess to second hand shops) before the technology goes obsolete some time!

        2. Fleur-de-Lis*

          Oh no! Print off a bunch of labels that say “Paper Clips” and cover up the “Staples” insignia?

        3. Elitist Semicolon*

          Now I wonder whether I used to work for your company, because my former director somehow ordered 10,000 paper clips. Amazing how much room 1,000 boxes of 100 paper clips can take up given how small an actual paper clip is.

    2. Middle Aged Lady*

      I would add green hanging file holders. Everywhere I have ever worked has scads of them. No one uses that many anymore, but it was forbidden to throw them away.
      On my last big office cleanout, we also found tons of the pink ‘while you were out’ pads to take phone messages on.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I haven’t used those since the 90s! I have a novelty pad of those things with a slightly different message that I inherited at my first job years ago. Instead of saying “while you were out” it says “While You Were F*cking Off” which amuses me to this day. I’ve brought it with me to every subsequent job.

      2. Not today, thanks*

        I find these useful for making templates when I’m working on an embroidery project. They’re sturdy enough for a small task, cut up easily, and I don’t care if I only use them once. (Versus buying plastic templates I feel I have to keep for eternity.)

        1. StitchWitch*

          I am a seamstress at a high school, and the administration insists on giving me multiple pads of hallway passes each semester, which I never use. So I use them to make patterns, to label costumes, I even used a bunch of them to stuff a dismembered arm once…
          Now legal pads, those are another matter altogether. Those suckers are GOLD, I tell you.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            LEEEEEGAL PADS.

            A few years ago, someone abandoned a whole pack of those suckers in our communal laundry room at our apartment. Husband secured them and we’ve used them ever since for everything from grocery lists to notes to you name it.

            We’re down to the last two, and bereft. I ordered some from Amazon, but when they came they weren’t the extra long kind.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              We still have some from Staples’ immortal penny sale. You know, the one where they forgot to mention any limits. I also like the little yellow pads.

      3. SarahKay*

        At least in the UK the green hanging file folders were absurdly expensive for what they were. I remember needing to order them about 15 years ago and the cost definitely made me go “How much? I mean, seriously, how much?!?

        1. Oh yeah, Me again*

          but unlike the Manila folders that go in the, you can save the hanging files and use them over and over, when you purge the old files (provided you staple the sleeve the metal piece goes through). I have some many years old.

          1. RedinSC*

            Oh, I white out the tag on the manilla folders and keep using them, too. Until they’re too broken to use again.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s like that with those big legal-size interoffice envelopes where I work. The kind that come with a little string to wind around the little wafer to close them, and you write the date and contents on the front in one of the slots.

          We use those to send information to all our stores, and they get gnarly quick. Covered with flour and oil, splitting along seams, you name it. Totally gross, and in most cases they’d be tossed, but it turns out these things cost a fortune. Like, as you said, a “blink and ask for a repeat of that again, please” amount. So it’s one of my occasional jobs to tape those suckers back together with packing tape and extend their harsh, harsh lives.

      4. anotherfan*

        I believe I have one of these from my salad days where the person taking the message wrote down that the Eternal General’s office had called. We have them in this office — where nobody answers the phone and we got rid of the secretary long ago.

    3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      1) Thank you for your service in cleaning out desks- no one does this and it drives me bonkers when I take over a desk and it’s just full of….stuff. (One former coworker apparently had a pudding explode in her desk and never cleaned it up and ugh.)

      2) The last place I worked, about six months into my tenure I finally got settled enough to decide, “I’m cleaning this mofo today.” I sorted paperclips- just paperclips- for an hour. I have no idea what my predecessor did with so. many. paperclips. At first, my coworkers made fun of me and then after awhile, they were amused.

      1. Wordnerd*

        I’m one of the last people in the department from when I started here in 2016, so I ended up with that job a lot. When I did start in 2016, I started with a desk that hadn’t been cleared out when my predecessor left, and that really set the trend.
        Yeah, a few weeks ago, I spent a solid 45 minutes sorting thumbtacks from paperclips, and had a “I went to graduate school for this job” moment.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          When I started a job in 1992 the office manager ordered my supplies. Mind you I’m a doctor, so there wasn’t all that much office/desk work. She ordered me boxes of everything: rubber bands (two boxes of those), paper clips, binder clips, staples, legal pads, pencils, pens (not the ones I like, of course), index cards, and probably a bunch of other things I’ve forgotten. 32 years later I still have some of the paper clips and binder clips, and I finally threw out the rubber bands a few years ago because they were dried up and useless and I hardly ever use them anyway.

          1. ICodeForFood*

            Wow… I still have some office supplies (rubber bands, a hole-puncher that my late father-in-law brought home from his office when he retired… in 1964!

        2. AnonORama*

          Ha, years and years ago another associate and I had to stay until like 2 a.m. at the law firm, putting exhibit tabs on huge binders of paper exhibits for a hearing the next day. We made up a song called “I’m so glad I went to law school,” and would occasionally sing it under our breath for the rest of the time we were both there. (I don’t really remember words or tune, because we made it up at the end of an 18-hour work day, but at least we amused ourselves.)

        3. It's Marie - Not Maria*

          I feel this in my soul. When we moved facilities, I had to inventory the office supplies for the move. All. The. Supplies. Paperclips. Staples. Rubber bands. We’ve been paperless for over five years. Still had to inventory and move them. I wrote a Masters Thesis to be able to count Rubber bands?

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Have you considered doing an average per ounce and just weighing them? (on the rubber bands).

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          I’ve cleaned the cubicles at my job on many occasions, and the AMOUNT of crap that can be stuffed into them astounds me. These aren’t desks with drawers–they’re just flat table surfaces with a phone and computer/keyboard on them.

          The piles and piles of old specials notices! The layers of weird drawings tacked up everywhere! The lists of beers we haven’t sold in years! All covered in layers of crumbs, dust, and olive oil sheen.

      2. Tinkerbell*

        When I took over at my tiny one-room library, they’d been for nearly a year without a librarian. There was a mini-fridge in the back room that was basically a biohazard, and the bottom drawer of my desk was 2/3 full of Captain D’s tartar sauce packets. (There was no Captain D’s anywhere within a 20-minute drive.)

        1. Jane*

          The school library office was filled with mimiographed handouts for students when I took over in 2008

        2. Other duties as assigned*

          I work in a much bigger library than you, and my staff recently moved to a new shared office suite. I was up there making sure there was enough furniture and opened a mini-fridge to find a pack of cream cheese that expired in 2018. Then I saw salad dressing that went bad in 2016, the year I started here. THEN I saw yogurt from 2014. And creamer from 2012.

          So anyway, I told Facilities it was a biohazard and they needed to get rid of it. It’s still there, 4 months later. While my job has “other duties as assigned” I am REFUSING to make cleaning this fridge one of those duties. I told my staff to use the full size fridge in the next office suite and come to me if anyone complains.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            People hang onto salad dressing like it’s made from angels’ tears, I swear. When I clean out the office fridge I get so many “DON’T THROW OUT MY DRESSING!” and when I check the dates it’s from six years ago. I have saved I don’t know how many lives, I swear.

        3. Festively Dressed Earl*

          There’s always a container in the break room that’s the Island of Misfit Condiments, and it’s always got some mysterious and frightening brown goo smeared on everything. If no one wanted the takeout sauce packets the first time, what makes people think they’ll come in handy five years from now?

      3. Lily C*

        I once found large, dusty box under a desk during a clean-out between staffers that had 25 unopened, one-pound bags of rubber bands.

        1. ThreeDogsInATrenchcoat*

          Were they a children’s librarian? That’s the sort of weird supply stash we end up with when we do a large volume craft for an event or take-and-make kit.

      4. Middle Aged Lady*

        When I was an office manager, a notoriously disorganized faculty member left and the boss asked me to clean out his cubicle before his replacement arrived. At the bottom of the very last drawer I cleaned out, I found a book on how to get organized. Poor guy. Super nice, great coworker—just couldn’t manage the flow of papers.

      5. Albatross*

        I took over a desk about a month ago and discovered a previous resident’s copy of MS-DOS, an Angela Lansbury aerobics VHS, and other such useful things. I’m considering trying to sell them.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          If you still have a VHS player, watch the Angela Lansbury tape- the Maintenance Phase podcast episode about it is *delightful.* (If they had ruined Angela Lansbury, I would have given up all hope.)

    4. KG*

      We have to keep a printed copy of everything and now that we receive client paperwork electronically, I’ve had to buy binder clips. It almost kills me. We were drowning in them pre-2020.

      1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

        Maybe you need to start a Trade Group with the people who have boxes of them sitting around, covered in dust?

      2. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

        I eventually realized that the reason I was buying $50 worth a month was that a certain department used them for paperwork they held for about four months, and then threw them away still clipped! I told them they had to take the clips off before dropping it in the recycling and suddenly we had plenty. the large-size ones weren’t cheap!

    5. many bells down*

      I have been office manager at my job for 5 years now and I have never had to purchase binder or paper clips. We have enough to build the Eiffel Tower. We’re a staff of 9.

      I’m reminded of an old science fiction story about how you can never find a safety pin but there’s always a million wire coathangers… because safety pins were the larval stage of some alien life-form. Then they grew into coathangers and then bicycles. “And All The Seas With Oysters” I think was the title. Anyway, can’t wait to be abducted by whatever my paperclips grow into.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Terry Pratchett also used that concept but with grocery carts. IIRC grocery carts hatch into shopping malls?

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          It was snow globes that hatched into shopping malls. The carts were like the worker drones.

      2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Funny you should mention wire coat hangers. Since there’s been a cultural shift away from those, they’re actually sort of hard to find, but the wire they’re made from is SUPER USEFUL and I do tend to hoard them when I can find a stash. They make terrific soldering picks and support structures for small sculptures and jewelry making.

        1. Wow, really?*

          I have started hating them with the fire of 1,000 suns, but can’t yet afford to get rid of every single one.

        2. Ama*

          I have a bunch hanging in my craft closet for just that reason! I have wire snips and have been known to cut pieces off any time I need wire for something.

        3. JustaTech*

          We made a set of bag hangers for the lab out of wire coat hangers – very sophisticated and high tech (but they get the job done and no one has stabbed themself yet).

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          A bent wire coat hanger unclogs sinks fantastically. I have one stored in the bathroom.

        5. Teaching teacher*

          Oh, what a sad day it was for me when I realized I had used the last of my wire hangers for a non-clothing related task. I never appreciated how lucky I was to have them… I was young, I had grown up with racks of wire hangers, why would they ever leave me?

          Recently I had a homeowner task and I had literally no idea how to do it without a wire hanger to mutilate into the shape I needed.

      3. Oh yeah, Me again*

        oh, wouldn’t it be lovely if the world was full of cheap bicycles, available wherever you got tired of walking!

      4. Kendall^2*

        There’s also a short story (I think by Pat Murphy) in which an old lady living in a SRO hotel, ducking visits by a social worker, scavenges random things off the streets every day (all the dead umbrellas here, all the random paper clips there, etc.) finds a claw thing she thinks fell off a UFO when it broke up on entry. Plot ensues. It’s pretty excellent, actually.

    6. Blarg*

      I use so many binder clips around my apartment. They close bags of chips or cereal or kale (in the fridge). They hold down tarps on the balcony. You can run them through the dishwasher. Binder clips are a wildly under-appreciated tool.

      1. No Longer Working*

        I’ve learned to put one at the top of wall calendars and hang the calendars from that – since the paper with the lunched hole is so thin, it is likely to tear.

        They are also excellent fidget toys.

      2. Moush*

        Binder clips: currently holding two comforters together as I recover from surgery and the comforters kept falling off the bed!

        1. Lynn*

          I use them to catch the corners in duvet cover that doesn’t have ties inside. Once it’s all arranged, I take them off, because it stays put.

      3. Teapot Librarian*

        I would never have thought to put binder clips in the dishwasher. I now have to reconsider my entire kitchen.

      4. TLW*

        Growing up, my dad used binder clips to attach Christmas lights to the roof. They slide right under shingles with no damage!

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Not gonna lie, I keep one in the bathroom for tweezing that annoying chin hair. It’s located such that I can’t crane my head enough to see it whether I have my glasses on or not, and the binder clip gives me more surface area to pinch with which means I’m way. more likely to succeed than if I sit there for 20 minutes and stab at the underside of my chin with tweezers.

        1. Anon of course*

          Hmmm I may need a car binder clip in addition to my car tweezers (excellent light in the car for chin hairs….)

      6. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I bought a box specifically to use with my sous vide. I use them to clip the bags to the rack and the sides of the tub.

        1. AnonORama*

          Yes! I bought all-metal ones that can go in the oven, which are fantastic for keeping parchment paper in place while baking.

      7. Dara*

        If you have something you want to display and don’t mind crimping the bottom, two binder clips upside down and stood on their ‘handles’ make quick frameless picture frames.

      8. StarTrek Nutcase*

        Yeah, I also use them to hold the edges of parchment paper up in a pan so I don’t have to grease the pan. They don’t mind oven temps and are easily washed if needed. I also use them alot when quilting. I just wish I had snatched some from the hundreds of unneeded ones from work cause especially the big ones are not cheap.

    7. Nica*

      My company recently moved after 40+ years in the same building. They determined it was cheaper and easier to donate/gift/trash most things rather than pay to move them. There were literally huge moving boxes FILLED with hanging folders, which we hadn’t used in years and were destined for the dump. It pained me to chuck them, so I made some phone calls and found a non-profit that was thrilled to take them off our hands. I must have given them over 1000 folders! Better that than going to the landfill, I guess!

      1. birb*

        In Houston there’s a place called the Texas Art Asylum that businesses donate all kinds of junk to for artists to repurpose. It’s SO much fun seeing the weird stuff that gets donated, and also all the ways people think up to use them.

      2. Colleen Whitley*

        In my scout group we keep a large bag that was donated. It gets pulled out to use when camping, and for our yearly fort-building night for the 5-7 year olds. The larger ones work great for attaching pieces of cardboard together along with sheets to build structures.

    8. MKR*

      I cleaned out a storage space when my last office moved. There were some of those orange Home Depot buckets from a prior project. I filled 2.5 of them with binder clips, for an office that at it’s largest had be 5 people (including interns).

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I’d say you should pour them out and roll around in them, but that would be kinda painful.

    9. Generic Name*

      I worked at a site that was being decommissioned. Offices and job trailers were getting cleared out before being demolished/removed. Staff had bags and bags of binder clips that they were begging everyone to take. I took a few bags home, and then when I started my new job, took the clips with me. I think the bags are still there in drawers, untouched.

      Back when everything was on paper, you needed those suckers, and it seemed like you never had just the right size. Now that everything is going digital, the clips are useless. And the supply is increasing as people scan old reports and toss paper and binder clips in a pile and the paper goes into a shredder.

      1. Annual Fun Girl*

        Binder clips might not be useful as office supplies anymore, but they are far from useless. If you have a lot, see if there is anyplace in your area that takes craft supply donations. They have a ton of uses in crafts (one example is holding fabric in place for paint/stencil/silkscreen projects). Schools also use the to display student art. I promise if you search around a bit there is someone who will give them a good home and use them every day.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This. I don’t like to use hoops for cross stitch, and will use binder clips (stolen from my last job, natch) to secure the fabric I’m not working on. Schools, craft centers, and senior citizen centers would absolutely love to have any extra binder clips.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          I work in Special Education; lots of stuff still has to be on paper. I love binder clips. Sharpies and paper clips, too; I’m weirdly in love with office supplies of this kind.

          But I wanted to put in a word of defense for the binder clip.

    10. TootsNYC*

      oh my lord, the binder clips.
      We used them for our routing packets, and somehow I got confused about how many were in a box/case, and ordered way too many. then someone else ordered a stash. And I started removing them from the files before I sent them off to storage/destruction.

      Honestly my company should never need to order binder clips again.

      1. Crushed Dreams*

        At an old job, we were going nuts trying to find binder clips – they would walk off like break-room donuts – so the boss decided to order a large quantity from our university vendor – enough to stock us up for a good while. And they took FOREVER to arrive. We were so excited when they finally showed up, we couldn’t wait to tear open the boxes up and revel in our binder clip bounty, Scrooge McDuck style. I remember thinking they were rather inefficiently packed – such small boxes, they could surely only be a few in each one – but what the hell. And surely, given the size of the box, we’d only gotten part of our long-delayed shipment. But who cares? We finally had binder clips!

        Except…bossman must not have read the fine print when he ordered, because when I excitedly opened the first box, I discovered the tiniest binder clips I have ever seen. Like straight-up BossBabe Barbie office desk accessory sized micro-clips. They were so small that they stapler-refill-sized box I assumed only contained a handful of clips actually held something like 20 of them.

        I remember just standing there staring into the box with the utter stunned silence of someone whose dreams have been suddenly and irrevocably crushed by cruel fate…then showing him (to much the same effect)…before we both absolutely lost our shit and dissolved into laughter.

        To this day I have NO idea what on earth you could even use clips that small to hold, or why our vendor even carried such an absolutely useless size. They were so tiny that manipulating the wee little handles was nearly impossible. The clips ended up being something of an office joke after that, and I think I actually still have a few at home. But seriously. WTAF office-supply-vendor?

    11. LuckyPurpleSocks*

      Oh my gosh, we just cleaned/organized a supply closed at my work and we also found SO MANY BINDER CLIPS! We kept one container of each size, and I’m going to “disappear” the rest of them.

    12. Sometimes I Wonder*

      I do have one weird use for binder clips…to fix the toilet. That metal arm that is activated by the handle, when it rusts out and loses the chain? Binder clip it together until you can get a new handle assembly in there. I’ve had a binder clip on that handle for more than 3 months, waiting for the landlord to fix it.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Ha, very Macgyver!

        I have four in my kitchen which I use to clip down the edges of the paper lining a baking pan. Because they’re metal they do fine in the oven (but make sure not to forget and touch them afterwards).

        And occasionally I use one to stand a piece of paper up under my monitor (triangular metal part as the stand and the paper between the two wire loops) if it’s something I want to be sure to notice as I leave – like TAKE GROCERIES IN FRIDGE HOME or whatever.

        1. Oh yeah, Me again*

          Hah! This second on is inspired! You could use old file folders cut to size to make the notices (nicer than printer paper held up by Scotch tape, but still temporary) Cut the folder into 8.5 by 11 sheets with that disused paper cutter and run then through the bypass feed on you printer or copier then cut them down to size, attach the binder clips, and voila! Cute little standing sign!

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Hooking them on with paper clips works, too (uncoil the paper clip and use as a standard wire thingy).

    13. Artemesia*

      I brought a bunch of the big binder clips home when I retired as they make excellent closures for chip bags, cat food bags etc.

    14. Office Chinchilla*

      During the pandemic, my company decided to give up the lease on our old office space and move us into a smaller space (since we all now WFH a few days a week), so one of my first tasks back was to clear the old office out. The new space was not only smaller, but the company had decided we would be “paper-free” (not literally possible, but we could get close). I started by posting things on my Buy Nothing Group. “Anyone want some tabs for hanging folders? Just the little plastic tabs? You could use a few? GREAT! Here’s 8 boxes of 500. ENJOY!”

      Eventually someone in my group put me in touch with a local charity that put out an email blast to all the other charities in my area. I had multiple people say “I’ll take everything you’ve got!” and then show up and realize we had way more than they could possibly transport. Still, a lot of stuff got to good homes, and I am pleased because my company’s plan was to just throw everything away.

      The things I kept include: floppy disks (I call them my “retirement fund”), a label maker where you turn the head and squeeze out one letter at a time, and cellophane sheets for projectors. It’s my Museum of Outdated Technology. Oh, and our dolly. I was fiercely protective of that. It still has the pin!

      1. WellRed*

        This is what I did. Local group that collects and gas “shopping” warehouse for teachers. Bulletin boards, binders, everything.

        1. Office Chinchilla*

          I’ll never forget the teacher who told me, her eyes tearing up, “you don’t understand. We have to beg for PENS.” And here I was, showing her really nice stuff and telling her to take as much as she wanted because my company considered it worthless.

          At the last minute, the company decided they also didn’t want a bunch of electronics (mostly monitors, nothing that stored information) and a coworker found me a charity that collects electronics to distribute to other charities. They showed up with a big moving truck and still had to leave some behind because they didn’t have room.

      2. JustaTech*

        When we cleared out several labs there was just tons of lab supplies (holders and racks and small equipment) that we had a million too many of, but the idea of throwing it away was just a non-starter.
        So people asked around and we had a teacher from a high school show up to take “all” the lab supplies. We filled his car until it literally sank on the wheels and we were afraid it wouldn’t be able to roll anymore, and barely made a dent.

    15. Maggie*

      I used to work in a library. NOTHING got thrown out. Obsolete book labels with dried out adhesive, typewriters, old tech, 3 ring binders that were used but still “good,” boxes of old Date Due slips, yellowed plastic sleeves for protecting vinyl records, VHS cases, if it has been used in a library in the last 50 years, we had half a box of it in the supply room. When we moved into a new building someone suggested purging old stuff. You’d think she suggested we all amputate a limb. “WHAT IF WE NEED IT?!”

      1. Maggie*

        That said, when my mom found an old ZIP disk with family photos stored on it, I was able to go into the tech office and get a portable ZIP drive and cables, no problem. I offered to bring it back the next day, but the department manager said “Keep it. We’ve got about 30 of them.”

    16. Ally McBeal*

      I’ve accidentally accumulated so many binder clips over my career that I now use them as chip clips in my pantry. Or any other food packaging that needs to be clamped closed to preserve freshness. Maybe they’ll clamp my coffin closed with my collection someday XD

    17. commensally*

      If you buy the cheap staplers at most office supply places, you’re likely to get a free staple remover packaged with them. The staplers break, the staple removers don’t. We have a drawer full. (Binder clips actually get used up here though.)

    18. Gumby*

      I don’t steal them from work (and I think our supply office has a normal number of them) but could definitely use excess binder clips at home. I use them to keep things like cereal bags and frozen fruit / veggie bags closed. So even though I stocked the junk drawer with at least 24 of the little buggers I still run out on the regular.

    19. Risky Biscuits*

      To add another (non-work) use for binder clips that I didn’t see mentioned yet: I used to have guinea pigs and they lived in a large cage that I built them out of cubical wire shelving panels and coroplast (“C&C,” a popular style for guinea pig enthusiasts) and I used binder clips to secure some of the panels, especially ones that needed to stay put but still be easily removed when needed, like the ceiling panel that hosted the “fleece forest.” I also used binder clips to secure the fleece bedding the lined the entire bottom of the cage to the coroplast. Lots of binder clips, so there were no gaps big enough for those little potatoes to pull the fleece loose and climb under.

      (Typing all that out made me suddenly realize how much of a DIY hobby guinea pigs can be.)

      1. CowWhisperer*

        I worked at Home Depot when my kid was small after teaching high school science for years.

        I’d get a call from a confused coworker that a customer was asking for chloroplasts.

        I’d reply, “If they’re looking for a plastic board, it’s in aisle 32 by the plexi and glass supplies. If they’re looking for plants, we’ve got a garden section – but there’s a plant at pet shops that works much better. But they’re never looking for the plants – so just take’em to the far end of 32.”

    20. CowWhisperer*

      You can make good money showing up with those at a local secondary school the week before school starts and selling them for 4/$1.00 for the clips and $2.00 a pop for the staple removers.

      Love,

      Teacher who forgets to put office supplies on her grocery list

    21. Teaching teacher*

      I just read this whole section of comments and didn’t see this testament to the usefulness of binder clips – charger cord holders! My unplugged cords never hit the ground because they are held up by binder clips – pull the metal wings off, put the cord through, then connect the clip back together and clip to desk.

    22. All Hail Queen Sally*

      When my hair was longer, I used the large binder clips as a hair clip. They worked great.

    23. ElliottRook*

      To be fair, I have stopped buying plastic chip clips because they ALWAYS break in less than a year, and I close up all chip bags (and freezer bags, and cracker packages, and cereal bags in boxes) with binder clips. Hashtag life hack haha.

    24. Mother of Corgis*

      At a former job, we had such a huge supply of binder clips in various sizes that I made a series of action figures out of them for my cubicle.

  4. Your Social Work Friend*

    The paper shredder. We are the only school in the entire district who still had one instead of using a shredding service for disposing of documents with student information on them. Ethel the shredder has died. We still have no shredding service.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      My office uses a shredding service, but we still have a shredder because some people don’t trust the service. *insert eyeroll here*

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Never mind keeping the shredder for fear of the shredding service, one of my coworkers *hand tears* all her papers into tiny bits before she puts them in the shredding box.

      1. Artemesia*

        We have a public one a couple of times a year; we are shredding boxes of old tax records this week.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        All my previous jobs in industry have had large plastic bins (like trash bins) where you can slide in any documents that require shredding. The company takes them away a few times a year and just mass shreds the contents. I use them to shred personal documents I don’t need anymore–old tax returns, bills, etc. (most people here use it for that, we rarely have non-online confidential/business use only paper floating around).

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I think they have trucks that do the shredding right there in the street? I could be wrong. But I think I saw one on fire one time, right in the middle of a busy downtown street.

          It looked kinda like a garbage truck but with some machinery that wasn’t a compactor.

          1. Shred it!*

            They do. Our service pulls into the parking lot, rolls the giant bins outside, truck picks it up and dumps it and you can hear it shredding. Very cool.

      3. Potoooooooo*

        The one I interact with semi-regularly at work looks like a box truck, but has a hidden arm like the a garbage truck uses to pick up trash and dump it in the top. It’s probably the same mechanism.

        The shredders inside the trucks can even destroy hard drives.

      4. Reluctant Mezzo*

        There’s a nice document destruction place in our town (they do mailing services and other stuff like that). I had a bunch of old tax stuff I wanted destroyed and so happily paid a dollar a pound to go through Igor (I could see it from the front. I suspect they just threw everything in, envelope and all).

    2. Maestra*

      I wish we had used a shredding service. I work with IEPs and the office shredded is the slowest thing in the world and always clogs.

      You’d think in one of the largest districts in the state we’d move past a machine that jams all the time.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Big district = admin is so far removed from the day-to-day that they don’t understand how these little annoyances add up.

      2. Former professor*

        As a new faculty member, I suffered with a terrible shredder (could handle like 3 pages at a time, jammed, overheated) for several years before saying to my department chair “I honestly think that shredder is a fire hazard. Is there any chance we have budget for a new one?”. The next week we had a massive, modern, industrial quality one. Apparently the 40+ department members had only ever groused about this to each other and no one had ever mentioned to to the chair that we needed a new shredder in the decade since its useful life had ended.

    3. Oh yeah, Me again*

      it is more reliable to shred on-site. .y colleague found checks and other papers floating around our parking lot on at least one occasion after the shedder bin was picked up. And I trust myself and my coworkers not to root through for valuable data more than I do the anonymous employees of the shredder company. I guess they are bonded, but still.

    4. Ace in the Hole*

      Our version of this is the manual hole punch. It’s been rescued from the trash countless times.

      We have an electric one that does three/two hole punch for letter size paper… but if you need to do a non-standard spacing of holes, you need Ol’ Punchy.

    1. profe*

      My department has an electric hole punch taken from another department that said “please rid us of this big useless thing”. We all love it.

      1. coachfitz13*

        +1 for the electric hole punch–absolutely priceless in my previous job where the boss received an inch-thick binder every night that held everything he needed for what was going on the next day.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      My kingdom for an electric stapler!

      When I am reviewing long documents – technical report drafts, federal policy – I can’t do it digitally. I just can’t. I need to be able to take notes in margins, fold corners, highlight, etc. It hurts my eyes and my head to scroll through pages and pages on screens. I came close to buying my own electric stapler when I learned that the one in our mailroom went away during the pandemic shutdowns.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I don’t like electric staplers (they’re finicky and easy to break, in my experience) but I agree wholeheartedly with needing to print out long documents. Most things I can handle digitally, but when my friend needs a beta reader for their novel, you better believe I’m printing it out – in tiny font with small margins to save paper & ink, but still. Then I’m covering the manuscript with post-it notes. Bliss.

      2. Academic Social Worker*

        100% agree with printing out long documents! I need to be able to highlight, sticky note things, sometimes even draw on them. It’s just not the same.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I remember those from HS when I was always in charge of copying and collating for the theater department. The copy machine was in the main office. I spent hours there copying, collating, and stapling. They had a manual collating maching – you loaded the papers in top to bottom, pulled the lever, and it spit out one copy of each page (when it worked). I was a junior when they got a copier that collated and I thought it was The FUTURE. It was 1977.

    3. Just Moi*

      Ooooo. I miss the one in our office. It sat right next to the electric pencil sharpener – bought by the same coworker who loved her some power tools.

    4. Mim*

      Oh god, I absolutely hate ours! I’m sure I’d grow to appreciate it if I still had a job that required a lot of stapling. But our electric stapler is so, IDK, *violent*. I swear I can feel my soul shake when that thing gets set off. You remember that feeling as a little kid, worrying that the frenzied goats at the petting zoo were going to take off one of your fingers as you tried to feed them? That is what I feel like “feeding” our electric stapler.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        They make new ones that are smooth and delightful. I used to be terrified of the one at the non-profit I worked at. Now? I bought one on clearance at Wal-Mart and even if we only use it once a year for insurance documents, it’s going to be a lifesaver.

    5. TootsNYC*

      my least-favorite thing about electric staplers is that they don’t staple at a 45-degree angle. So the staples end up pulling out of multipage documents that people flip through often.

    6. Homeburger*

      We have 2 electric staplers. Neither has been operational in the nearly 7 years I’ve worked here. But they remain on the supply counter. We’ve had I think 4 different employees in charge of office supplies in that time but for some reason no one gets rid of it.

    7. Ama*

      We did not have an electric one but the heavy duty stapler we had when I worked in a grad school (capable of stapling up to 2 inch thick documents) was the only office supply in my entire career that I resorted to labeling “If found return to Ama’s desk.” Since it was a grad school the students were always needing to staple thesis chapters for the faculty and they would carry it off all the time — and then I would need it to staple something and it would be nowhere. (They were welcome to use it they just needed to bring it back.)

    8. Distracted Procrastinator*

      One of my jobs involved a lot of stapling. I was there two weeks before I requested an electric stapler. It made things so much easier. I couldn’t believe the people in the job before me hadn’t already asked for one.

  5. Bitsy*

    I’d started working at an office that had seemed pretty functional so far. But I figure that The Weirdness always shows up eventually.

    One day I opened a drawer at the public service desk and found it full of broken staplers. I asked my supervisor why we had a drawer full of broken staplers? We’re saving them until we can get them fixed, she said. By whom, I wondered? A travelling stapler repairman?

    Over the next year, one by one I threw them away. Nobody noticed or cared.

    Now when I finally see the way a particular organization is quirky I think, yup, there it is: The Drawer of Broken Staplers.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        I once worked at a legal services non-profit with the Obstacle Course of Dead Fax Machines. Our office manager was a genius at squeezing the lowest price out of vendors, but that was coupled with the inability to discard any broken item just in case it could be repaired and used again — hence, the Obstacle Course.

        These were early fax machines, larger than today’s printers, and the vendor who serviced the office machines told me no one was making critical parts for them. So, when a fax machine died, it was discarded on the floor in the common area (sometimes right in front of the entrances to individual offices) and people just walked around it. This happened throughout the office. Meanwhile, the federal and state court systems switched to electronic filing, so we no longer needed a bank of fax machines — let alone several dead ones — to file pleadings.

        Despite this, the Obstacle Course remained — until one day our fair city announced a free electronics recycling program. At which point, I and a paralegal loaded the dead fax machines into my car when no one else was around and took them to the recycling center.

        It took about a week for anyone to notice that the Obstacle Course of Dead Fax Machines had disappeared. When asked directly, I fessed up that I had taken the broken machines to the free city recycling program. Use of the word “free” diverted all from the fact that I hadn’t gotten advance approval and, next, I took to metal recycling the Hand Truck with One Plastic Wheel.

        1. Generic Name*

          This sounds like something my old office would have done. It drove me crazy that they treated all common areas as dumping grounds for office supplies, cleaning supplies, equipment, etc. It was so embarrassing to bring guests/clients to the office. There was a broken air compressor shoved in a corner. Costco packs of toilet paper stacked in hallways outside of restrooms. Broken chairs gathered together in a pack. The kicker was that the layout of the office was custom-designed just for us by some “space planner” that the owner of the company was friends with. But she didn’t include closets. She also left tons and tons of dead/open space that had no function. One of the restrooms was so oddly shaped that one of the stalls was rendered non-functional because the stall door was meant to be angled such a way that the door touched the toilet when closed. The two-stall bathroom was functionally a one-stall bathroom. And this was the “main/nice” bathroom that guests would use when in the building for meetings. Ha ha ha

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      My library has a display shelf of old, broken staplers that we absolutely cannot get rid of for Reasons! I have asked about these Reasons, had it explained to me probably 4 or 5 times now, nodded along knowingly, and them promptly forgot said reason (“reason”).

      1. Bitsy*

        Kimmy, The Drawer of Broken Staplers was also in a library. I doubt you’re surprised. :-)

    2. Rage*

      I “fixed” a broken stapler at my previous employer (all I did was take a pair of needle-nose pliers and pull out the 5 or so staples that had somehow become crammed into the…what do you call the part of the stapler where they staples come out? That thing).

      The CEO called me a “Level Six Stapler Fixer” and I wanted to list that as my title so bad.

      1. metadata minion*

        When I worked at the front desk with the staplers, my very favorite tool was a pair of curve-nosed pliers; *perfect* for getting staples out.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Level six is so specific. It makes me wonder what the qualifications are for level seven.

    3. Oh yeah, Me again*

      What a shame! A drawer full of broken staplers sounds like an artwork waiting to happen. (I saw a nativity set made out of old house/car/luggage/padlock keys once. . . .)

    4. Ally McBeal*

      I once worked in the box office of a respected regional theater. My boss married for the first time in his mid-50s, and when his wife moved in she asked him why he had two dozen tuxedos (not suits – full tuxedos) when he only wears a tux once a year for our big gala. He proceeded to wear a tux to work every day for the next 2-3 weeks to prove a point. They were on a home declutter-and-remodel show and he gave several of them away in the end.

      RIP Stephen, you kept us smiling even when our patrons were unreasonable.

    5. Mostly Managing*

      I started a new job just over a month ago, and inherited a desk with office supplies already in it. Ok, not a problem – I’d need most of those things anyway.

      I have a Drawer of Plastic Tubes Formerly Known as Pens.

      They look like pens, but none of them actually works.
      I have a pen of my own which I use, but every so often it likes to hide under my keyboard. I pull out what might be a pen from the drawer and … no ink.
      My current theory is that someone was saving them all so they wouldn’t end up in landfill.
      They are slowly being binned

      1. JustaTech*

        When I started at my job I got stuck babysitting an instrument for several hours that didn’t really need attention, but if you left it alone, bad things would happen.
        I didn’t have a laptop, so I was quickly bored. To entertain myself I got every single pen in the lab and tested to see if it was working, and threw out the dead ones.
        Then I started on the lab markers.
        Then I tested all the lab markers to make sure they were *actually* alcohol-resistant. (About half of them were not, so I labeled them.)

        My coworkers were very grateful!

      2. Zelda*

        When I was in grad school and serving as a TA, I prided myself on giving students lots of usable feedback on the papers I graded, not just a few numbers and a grade. I worked hard, wrote a *lot* on those papers, and emptied quite a few purple gel pens. I still have the plastic tubes formerly known as pens. They’re *trophies*, darnit.

  6. DisneyChannelThis*

    Clickable pens. Office provides the cheapest bic ones with caps and only in black ink. No one likes them. Everyone brings their own pens in. People start “accidentally” walking off with the home brought pens. People start hoarding what vendor pens we get.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      People stole my pens a lot at an old job, until I got one which was a giant plastic daisy on the top. It must have been from a vendor (because I didn’t bring in my own things at that time), but that’s quite A Choice for the vendor. It lasted a few years and when I left the job I gave it to the boss’s 6 year old.

    2. run mad; don't faint*

      My husband’s office had a limited number of extra fine-tip black pens. He always kept his in his pocket because it would disappear if he left it on his desk.

      1. Ainsley Hayes*

        Periodically, I search on eBay to see if anyone has listed a box of the PaperMate Accountant Extra Fine ballpoint pens. Those were the BEST pens ever. Sigh …..

    3. Ama*

      Yup, when I purchased office supplies the big boss was the kind of guy who would throw a fit that if we spent more than 20.00 on pens in our supply order but went out and bought a several thousand dollar Persian rug for our conference room instead of the $800 multipurpose rug I had sourced. But he only looked at the total of the line item, so I would buy a few boxes of the terrible bic ones (total $5.00) and one six pack package of the really good clickable gel pens that the admin staff actually liked (also total $5.00). Every time I bought a pack I’d keep two and give two each to my two colleagues so we could actually take notes, sign forms, etc., without the pen malfunctioning on us.

    4. Lemonfork*

      I just remembered I have a pack of clicky pens hoarded in my drawer that I’ve forgotten to open.

    5. Coverage Associate*

      I also worked at a place with the cheapest possible pens. They were actually like the seconds of the cheapest possible pens. They weren’t even straight. I brought in some really not special branded ballpoint pens from one of my spouse’s events that got canceled. I slipped them into the supply cupboard and watched as they became a hot item among all the administrative staff.

    6. Pizza Rat*

      I feel your pain there. My pens go back in my backpack and home with me every night. The cheapies the office supplies are awful.

    7. Lenora Rose*

      When I was in charge of supplies briefly I have to admit, we ordered the NICE pens for the office; one type I liked and one type the person in charge of a particular sub department demanded. We’re only talking $21 to $25 for 12, not bank breaking. And in some new colours if the colour mix was the same cost (ie, on sale!) since I knew for a fact one person used purple whenever she could. They went fast the first couple of times, then started to sit there for a more normal duration as people realised, “hey, we don’t have to hoard.” and there was a fair bit of goodwill made.

      I noticed that since I left that role, that department went back to a cheaper kind of pen. Not the cheapest ones not the hard plastic with the edges, but still nowhere near as nice. I wonder if the hoarding of the better ones has started up again.

      And the person who orders supplies in my current department will get me the ink refills for my extant pen, at least though I don’t think she’d buy me the same kind as new pens while we have pens around.

    8. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      I worked in the primary office in a BigLaw firm for years, and then moved to a much smaller satellite office. The mothership used to buy Signo gel pens, then stopped (too expensive). The satellite office never stopped buying them. So until I retired I sent/carried a few Signos to someone I worked with regularly back at the mothership.

  7. Amber Rose*

    It’s such a cliche but… staplers. We have cupboards full of staples, that’s fine, but no staplers anywhere. The office manager buys them and they vanish before they get seen.

    Pens, but that’s largely just me. Every so often, a giant box of company brand pens shows up in the supplies room and I just grab handfuls and hoard them like a Pen Dragon.

      1. Beancounter Eric*

        No, the Swingline 747, in red. I have one on my desk, my personal unit – a gift from my wife. I also have a perfectly good company-provided 747, but no, I will always use the red one.

        And if Lumberg takes my stapler, or moves me to the basement so I can’t watch the squirrels, I will burn the place down. :-)

        1. Tom R*

          many years ago I had a job as an EA and I had a corporate credit card. My Boss told me I could spend extra on a good stapler because a good stapler will follow your career so I bought myself a Red Swingline Stapler that I still have

          1. Beancounter Eric*

            In all seriousness, the Swingline 747 is nearly indestructable. Another good one is the Ace Pilot 404…..all steel, and nearly indestructable.

          2. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

            One boss asked me if I wanted a new stapler- I said yes, in pink. The other boss said no, that was ridiculous.

            Guess who got a pink stapler?

            1. Kivrin*

              OMG I just realized that this stapler I stole from a job I had in 1993 (who had clearly stolen it from somewhere else because it has an Ontario govt logo on it) is a Swingline 747 lol.

              1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

                Boss One came back from Staples or Office Depot with a nice breast cancer awareness month pink stapler. He plunked it down on my desk with aplomb, just to irritate Other Boss.

        2. GeeGee*

          I have the Swingline Compact in purple in my home office! I work from home remotely so my supplies don’t get swiped.

          When I was in my old office, my metal ruler was “borrowed” all the time. I finally put my name on the cork backing. That seemed to have solved the problem. :)

          1. AngryOctopus*

            I cannot tell you the number of times I find my lab things (pipets, mostly) on other people’s benches. It has my name on it! I know you took it!!

            1. JustaTech*

              I had a lab boss who was so proud of having his own lab, and so tired of everything growing legs and wandering off that he insisted that *all* our lab supplies had to be blue, to go with his name. Every size of tube rack, the water bath floaters, the pipettes, everything. And if it didn’t come in blue then we had to buy it in green (for his PI’s name).

              It actually worked out well in our shared lab, because not only was it obvious when the other lab borrowed our stuff, it was also obvious if we borrowed their stuff!

          2. dawbs*

            I have a ruler that has my name on it–one of those personalized “Dawbs’s ruler” that grandma found somewhere (personalized stuff was always cool to kids and if she saw all of the grandkids’ names spelled right on something she could buy personalized, she bought all of us one :).

            My kid stole it and took it to school for her math class where she kept being asked why it said “Dawbs’s ruler” and gave it back to me in a huff …and stole her dad’s ruler instead.

            Personalized FTW. :P

        3. Winstonian*

          I have the exact same one. It was the first thing I got when I started at my new job because my stupid old job wouldn’t let me take it (TBF they did buy it, lol). This way I know who has it if it goes missing.

        4. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)*

          I ended up with an office-purchased red Swingline because I sent the office manager that Office Space meme when requesting a better quality stapler. I work in a very paper-heavy industry and I had an Amazon Basics one that jammed regularly and couldn’t handle more than 6 pages. It’s my favorite.

      2. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        After I left last job, I stole my office stapler because it was a matched set to the Swingline my dad took from HIS job at the post office when he retired. They both look like they were made in the 40’s and they both still work like a dream.

      3. Anonynon*

        I’ve got myself a 767 with a faux wood grain that I happened upon when they stuck me in an ancient, smelly, grad student office with no windows. I got moved within a week and you better believe that stapler came with.

        1. Audogs*

          I have the same one that has moved with me cross country and several jobs. It is currently not working and I am distraught..

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Try a sewing machine repair place. They’re quite good at fiddly little things!

      4. NerdyPrettyThings*

        Yes! I just checked mine out to see – I knew it was a Swingline, but not what model. It is indeed a 767. I also just discovered that it features, written in silver sharpie, the name of the person who I replaced 21 years ago.

      5. NerdyPrettyThings*

        I just turned mine over to see what kind it is. Not only is it indeed a Swingline 767, it features, written in silver sharpie, the name of the person I replaced 21 years ago. It still looks and functions like it’s brand new.

    1. Kris*

      We struggle to keep a working heavy duty stapler. We do have a collection of broken heavy duty staplers, though. Maybe we’re the problem!

      1. Merci Dee*

        I keep a heavy-duty, high capacity stapler on my desk because we create packets of information as part of our asset settlement process. Some of the packets are smaller, but our large machinery purchases or building remodels create pretty substantial packets. Occasionally, people from other departments will ask if they can borrow my high capacity stapler, and I’m always happy to lend it out. But I tell them that I will chase them down if they don’t bring it back, because I stole that stapler from the mail room area fair and square 10+ years ago, and nobody’s going to steal it from me if I can help it. :)

    2. Kerry*

      We had a vanishing scissors problem until a teen employee burst out laughing when an order of new scissors came in. He apparently was hiding all the scissors in the ceiling tiles!

      1. Shellfish Constable*

        That’s…disturbing. Were they arming the rodents in the attic? Stashing them for the zombie apocalypse? Mad at management for taking their red stapler?

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I assume he was just being a goofy teen, thinking he was being playful and prankish, without realizing he was causing actual problems.

    3. Not today, thanks*

      I have an Arrow 202 stapler from back before zip codes were invented (going by the address emblazoned on the bottom: Brooklyn 6, NY). It’s been chugging along for at least 60 years at this point.

      1. Beancounter Eric*

        Perhaps longer – seemingly, that model was introduced in the 1930’s.

        Sadly, Arrow no longer catalogs it on their website.

    4. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Stapler, I think, go away to breed in private. Monday. . .two staplers. in the workroom. Tuesday, one stapler. Wednesday, no staplers. Thursday, one stapler. Friday, four staplers!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I can hear the David Attenborough narration: “Here we see, in the semi darkness, the male stapler quietly approach the female, careful not to startle her. He bears a full box of staples as a courting gift to this lovely creature, her Swingline 767 logo gleaming in the moonlight as she edges closer to him.”

  8. Offline*

    I replaced someone who had spent their entire career in our workplace, so they admittedly worked through the normalization of the web in office settings. Our work requires a lot of information resources. When the retiree came in to meet me, they showed me shelves – SHELVES – worth of printed off PDFs from current and past subscriptions (a questionably permittable activity based on access licenses) and talked to me about how important it was to retain these because “you just never know when the internet will go away”

    1. Hermione Danger*

      I would argue that if the internet goes away, you’ll probably have bigger problems than the content stored on those shelves can solve.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        The Internet may not go away short of massive societal collapse, but any given site may well vanish. Link rot is a real thing. (This is an argument for saving local copies, not for printing everything out!)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This! But as someone who works on websites, there’s no guarantee your local copy will be accurate more much past when you download it.

    2. pally*

      That was me for several years. Not out of fear of the Internet going away, but because our external hard drives often DID “go away” (i.e., crash). And the boss who managed our IT was not an IT guy. Too cheap to hire in someone to do things properly.

      Back-ups? Yes! He said everything was backed up (“Trust me!”). Only, no one could ever discover where all our files were backed up to-even our IT guy.

      I learned, after the first loss of all my data, to make paper copies of everything. Which came in handy, time and time again. **Pally weeps.**

      We’re better now. The company has joined the 21st century and we have professional IT managing things. Said IT boss retired. No more fear of data loss. Have chucked the paper copies.

      1. Artemesia*

        Decades ago I had an SPSS manual for data analysis. It was written by a genius in communication and you could not only USE the methods but it carefully showed you what data was best analyzed, how to present findings, etc. It was like a stat brain between cardboard covers. Then they came out with a new updated one and so I threw the old one away. The new one was useless; written by monkeys with typewriters (who went on later to write my Kia electric car manual). For years I tried to find one of those old manuals. I didn’t do data analysis every day and so might be a bit rusty when doing a new analysis and that old manual made it all clear again. Curses on non-tech writers writing tech manuals. It is a gift.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        My first adult job, they used huge reel-to-reel tapes for data storage. (This was long enough ago that they were only ten years or so obsolete.) The head of Data Processing was even more out of date than his precious tapes.

        First, women were not allowed in the Data Processing room. Static from nylons, horrors! I don’t know who he thought was cleaning the place every night.

        He was convinced that the cost of the tapes was THE most important consideration. After he printed the general ledger history for the year on tractor-feed green bar paper, he … this hurts to write even decades later … re-used the tape. No backup except the printed transaction history and trial balance. Credit where it’s due, one copy did go to secure storage, but you can all see where the story’s going, right?

        The auditors arrive. We can’t make them too comfortable; we want them to go away ASAP. So, junior auditor tracing transactions, ticking and tying, and generally trying to work at a desk about the size I had in middle school, balances the ledger binder on the paper basket.

        Now, best practices would have been everything locked up in the audit trunk overnight, but this was a very junior auditor. He left for the night without putting away the binder. Without, in fact, even putting it on the top of the desk.

        The engagement manager and the CFO spent the next morning going through all the dumpsters in the basement of a 30+ story office tower. We never saw that auditor again, but I blame that cheapskate DP manager far more.

    3. Generic Name*

      I replaced someone who did this! This was about 20 years ago, and the person who had the job before me was in their 30s. There were binders and binders of websites printed out. The sites were for things that changed with some frequency, so the printouts quickly became out of date. So dumb.

      1. Ama*

        Me too! It was actually the woman who hired me, who left in my first year on the job. A few years later we moved offices and I had to clean out the massive file cabinet full of mostly completely outdated info she had printed out and saved in her 10 years on the job. There were a handful of things I saved for our archives and a few other things I scanned and saved to our electronic files because it was correspondence we didn’t have another copy of but probably 90% of it just got shredded.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Ayup. Engineers at my old office had an entire 4′ x 8′ bookshelf full of old catalogs. When I pointed out that not only were those catalogs 20 years out of date, but that half the companies had gone out of business, the engineer replied that it was to provide cross references. Specifically, that our in house drawings referenced Maker X’s part #123, but Maker X had been bought by Maker Y, who absorbed inventory but part #123 was now part X123, and on and on for two decades of mergers and acquisitions. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about standardized fasteners, so nothing that couldn’t be resolved by searching for the standard.

      1. AFac*

        I admit to keeping old catalogs. They were organized by item type, so if you weren’t sure what the name was of what you wanted, you could leaf through the section until you found it. There were multiple items on a page, so you could more easily compare them without clicking back and forth between 2 webpages. People wrote notes in the margins for others (“this flange doesn’t quite fit on our rotogravure even though it says it should”).

        I am one of those people who has a better memory for things I see on paper than on the internet. I don’t really know why, but I think it has something to do with being able to physically hold something and the fact that the context of the thing doesn’t change on the printed page (e.g. a sentence half-way down a page will always be half-way down a printed page but may vary for internet pages depending on window size).

    5. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Imagine if the Wayback Machine was endless warehouses filled with PDFs, continually refreshed as the content changed.

    6. ICodeForFood*

      To go against the trend here… in the 1990s, I worked in a purchasing department, purchasing printed materials for an insurance company… things like return envelopes, checks, various and sundry forms that were needed for the business.

      1. ICodeForFood*

        Sigh… hit return to soon. Anyway, there was a computerized inventory system which was supposed to hold the history for each item ordered and inventoried. It was unreliable.
        I started a binder with a photocopy of each purchase order for each item I ordered. Eventually, it grew to be an entire shelf of binders… and the inventory guys, who used the unreliable automated system, would call me and ask me to check my records for what had been ordered, since they didn’t trust their system!

    7. Zephy*

      They aren’t wrong, honestly. Hard-copy archiving has become more important than ever as so much information moves into the cloud. Future historians are going to have a hell of a time with this era of human history – tons of media has already been lost because it only ever existed digitally and wasn’t or couldn’t be preserved in a forwards-compatible format (like paper). See: Flash games and cartoons from the early 2000s. If they didn’t get ported to Steam or another console-based format, or pivot to Youtube videos, they’re gone forever. Maybe the websites hosting them still exist but you can’t play the games or watch the toons anymore.

      1. Artemesia*

        The tapes of the first words said on the moon were erased so the tapes could be re-used.

        I have photos of my grandmother who died in the 1919 epidemic holding my 6 week old father. I can guarantee you that no picture of me holding my 6 week old grandson will survive in digital format without there being a hard copy.

        When I retired I threw out boxes of floppies, hard discs, and assorted data storage devices all of which had become obsolete and largely unreadable — and all those VHS tapes. Electronic storage is ephemeral. If it is really important make a hard copy. It is why in our family we do shutterfly printed books of family pictures every so often. Those like the picture of my grandmother might be around for 100 years.

      2. beep beep*

        Not that tons of media still wasn’t lost, but community projects like Flashpoint made efforts to save all those old games and animations, and many were. It’s fun to look through their catalogue as a walk down memory lane.

      3. Been There*

        I learned the other day there is no recording of George Orwell speaking, even though he worked for the BBC as a radio maker for years. All those tapes are just… lost.

      4. Nico Robin*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, this era is considered a dark age. Not because of anything that has gone on, but because so little information about this time will survive.

    8. Pizza Rat*

      “you just never know when the internet will go away”

      I saw that in an Outer Limits episode in the nineties. I’m betting this person saw the same thing and internalized it a bit too much.

    9. Lena*

      Before my two coworkers and I worked here, there were two women who worked in over office for 30 and 32 years each. So many printed out websites, such as a list of all suburbs in the city and the post codes, contact details for all these businesses, pamphlets for places that had closed.They moved offices in that time too and never threw anything out by the looks of it.

    10. allathian*

      My office’s downsizing because so many of us still WFH most of the time. I had to give up my desk, which I totally understand because I only use it once a week or so. We also cleared out a closet full of paper files that my coworker’s predecessor had printed out. We figured that since we hadn’t needed them for 10 years, we wouldn’t need them in the future either.

      My former coworker printed everything out because she preferred to read stuff on paper when she could. Looking at a screen all day gave her eyestrain.

  9. Brain the Brian*

    We have an old spiral binding machine that must be from 1987 or so. Every time someone tries to suggest throwing it away (because, ya know, we haven’t actually produced anything requiring spiral binding in well over a decade), the VP who used to manage publications swoops in a decrees that We Must Keep This Because We Might Someday Need To Reprint A Page In An Old Document That Was Originally Spiral-Bound And This Cannot Be Accomplished Without A Spiral Binding Machine. Right now, it’s sitting unplugged on an HVAC unit — where it has been since at least 2018.

    1. Annual Fun Girl*

      I came to say Spiral Binder, except with a twist — new staff always wants to throw it out (or doesn’t know what it is) but our grant writer actually uses it 2 – 3 times a year and our ability to spiral bind in house does apparently save us a few hundred dollars a year. Now the spiral binder is in a cloth storage bag in the grant writer’s office with a big note explaining what it is.

      1. JR 17*

        What does your grant writer use a spiral binder for?? I’ve never seen a grant that wasn’t submitted electronically! But I do remember spiral binders from my early consulting days, almost 20 years ago. It is very satisfying to produce a bound report with a plastic cover – PDFs aren’t quite the same.

        1. Curious*

          At my place, there are certain reports, grants, RFPs that are submitted and received in spiral binders.

          No one wants throw spiral binder maker thingy away because replacing it may be expensive should it be thrown away and somebody needs it.

        2. Enough*

          I have a cookbook that is spiral bound and worked in the 80s where reports were spiral bound. Love how everything lays flat. Makes it so much easier to read. Especially when it’s an inch or more think.

          1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

            I love my spiral bound Sunset Easy Basics cookbook. My mom gave it to me many yeas ago when I moved out and I still use it regularly.

          2. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            I bought a spiral binder a few years ago to use at home for some project I’ve since forgotten. I don’t remember if it ever got used for that purpose, but I have used it a ton to bind loose recipes. I made copies of all my most-used recipes from all my cookbooks and spiral bound it into a greatest hits cookbook and it is the best thing ever for the kitchen.

          3. Charlotte Lucas*

            Love spiral-binding for anything (cookbooks, craft books) that needs to lie flat.

        3. crochetislife*

          I work on RFPs for bidding purposes in construction. Some public entities and even private clients still prefer physical copies and doing public openings for state regulatory reasons. I also have a spiral binding machine that i use maybe five times a year for a public bid. I mostly use it to have physical copies of our proposals if i want to visually see the different deliverables we’ve sent in the past or if i don’t feel like staring at the computer for hours on end.

        4. Brain the Brian*

          If we used it for this purpose, I could understand keeping it. But I think the last department to stop using it used it solely to bind final versions of the annual updates to their internal policy manuals. The binding signified that it was “official” and any deviations from it needed one-time approvals until the department’s director produced the next “bound official” revision. No other department did this, ever, and any public-facing documents bound with this ancient device long predate my employment here. The whole thing is sitcom-level ridiculous.

    2. used to be a tester*

      Ooooh – if I ever found one laying about, I’d ‘borrow’ it so I could spiral bind some of my craft books and cookbooks so they’d lay flat while I was using them. I’m seriously considering taking a few crochet books to a copy shop and paying to have them spiral bound just because it vexes me so much.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        Oh my gosh, I never thought about that, but that’s genius! My boss bought me this book of beautiful embroidery patterns, but it’s SO HARD to copy. I’m going to cut the binding off and have it rebound so I can actually make use of it.

        1. Oh yeah, Me again*

          what about cutting out the pages and putting them into plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder? It will take up more space, but you can put in multiple brochures (with tabs to separate) and you won’t lose any of the page to the spiral binding. And who doesn’t have zillions of old binders lying around.

          1. FricketyFrack*

            Surprisingly, I have zero binders, and I’d prefer not to use a bunch of plastic to do it. The book in question has a good amount of margin around each pattern, so binding wouldn’t be an issue.

      2. Brain the Brian*

        Do you want one that may or may not be surreptitiously snuck out of an office in the dead of night? *shifty eyes*

      3. Jen*

        I took my favorite knitting book to the copy shop and had them slice off the binding and spiral bind it. I love it SOOO much.

      4. Angstrom*

        Same with music books. Wrestling with something that doesn’t lie flat in a music stand is aggravation nobody needs.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          I grew up a musician and completely agree! But we do not deal with music at all in my office. (In fact, even listening to it is banned.)

        2. Galadriel's Garden*

          I used to play in an orchestra where all of our music was provided to us either comb or spiral-bound, and it made basically every other configuration unbearable. When I worked at at civil engineering firm years later, which still relied heavily upon printed and bound materials for plan sets and RFPs, I would spend my lull periods binding basically every last bit of sheet music I could manage…

      5. Retired and missing free office supplies*

        Use binder clips (see most of these comments for sources) to hold the books open on both sides.

      6. Funbud*

        In my retirement job at a nonprofit thrift store, we have had at least two spiral binding machines donated. We also got boxes and boxes of binding combs. All of it sold eventually. My advice is ask around at your local thrift stores.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      We have one in a satellite office and my colleague uses it all the time and may be the only one using it. She will bind together key sets of documents for specific projects she is working – like me she benefits from the tactile aspects of paper reading, highlighting, scribbling notes etc. When customers come to call and there’s a beautiful briefing deck from a research team, their faces LIGHT UP when they ask if they can have print copies and we hand over beautifully bound materials.

      She’s the only one who uses it, but the supplies keep getting used by her so the office manager keeps ordering them. I love it.

    4. AdminExtra*

      I love a spiral binding machine! I worked with one probably twenty years ago and still reminisce about it when I print out something that’s too big for a binder clip. But now that I think about it’s rare that I print anything so long, which is probably why those machines have gone out of style.

    5. bishbah*

      Should this unlikely scenario ever occur, tell the VP that your local copy/print shop will do the spiral binding for you for a small fee.

      This reminds me of people who pay for storage units that they fill with things they never use and yet can’t bring themselves to get rid of. Sure, maybe if you sell everything now you might someday have to repurchase an item, but in the meantime you haven’t been burdened by the cost of storing/maintaining all that extra stuff.

      Also, now I’m curious if my own office still has their spiral binder. It was shoved way back in a cabinet last I saw it, years ago, but I think that after shutdown the office manager did a massive purge prior to the office reopening. The fax machine is now gone, for instance…

      1. Brain the Brian*

        And that local copy/print shop’s fee will almost certainly be far less than the value of the labor that will be wasted when an employee has to learn how to use our in-house spiral binding machine.

        (This assumes our machine still works. It may not, seeing as it’s been unplugged for at leasy five years.)

    6. Statler von Waldorf*

      My current office has a spiral binding machine, which hadn’t been used in years before I started. These days all our bids and quotes are PDFs.

      It turns out they work fantastically for my homebrew D&D campaign notes. Space is tight behind the DM screen, and spiral bound notes keep everything in order and keep my notes from spreading out. Plus, at the end of the campaign I have a nice notebook as a souvenir of the game.

      1. Usurper Cranberries*

        That’s a fantastic idea! I’ve been seriously considering going back to paper DM notes because there’s something about the tactile feel of paper and pen when playing that I love. (I already use physical dice instead of a dice roller whenever possible, as it’s just more fun.)

    7. Nea*

      I have a big metal manual spiral binder left over from the pre-internet fanzine days and I. Still. Use. It.

      I’ve made books for classes with it; printed out readings in the front; note pages in the back. I’ve made calendars with it. I’ve made specialized trip booklets with maps and notes with it. I’ve made personal cookbooks with it. If I stuff any more printed notes and info into my copy of Daily Dracula, I’m going to rebind it with my trusty spiral binder.

      And yes – I do have a lot of old fanfiction bound with it!

      1. pandop*

        I work in a library, you will prise the spiral binder out of our book repair unit’s cold dead hands.

      2. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        This inspired me to go on Amazon to see how much they actually cost. I’ve been wanting to make my own calendars (using my own photos) for years! Cheap ones available for $39-$49!

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      I used to use my office’s spiral binder when I would start a new workout program–I would put the calendar on the front and then bind all my tracking worksheets. I LOVED it.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        An employee a couple of years ago asked if they could use ours to bind some personal documents into a booklet, and management sent out a passive-aggressive office-wide email reminding everyone of the No Company Resources For Personal Use policy as a response. Great system we have here.

    9. urguncle*

      My partner is a composer and has to bind scores frequently for applications to grants, etc, so we *own a spiral binding machine.*
      Yes, it does feel good to live someone’s dream.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        If yours ever breaks, I know where to find one… just not how to sneak it out of here!

      2. LikesToSwear*

        I volunteer for various science fiction conventions and frequently do all the pre-printing creation of the publications. There are several machines that I would happily buy for my hobby if I had the money and space. A spiral binding machine is one of those things. I did manage to buy a large format printer from my husband’s employer via a government-ish public auction site (they called it a plotter, but it’s not a true plotter with the pens etc, it’s a huge inkjet).

      3. Bread Crimes*

        This thread is teaching me that I desperately want a spiral binding machine. Mostly to use on all the pretty notebooks I don’t buy because I hate writing in a book that doesn’t lie flat properly at each page, and so few NICE notebooks with good, fountain-pen-suitable paper come with a spiral binding.

    10. Office Chinchilla*

      When we were moving out of our old office, we found boxes and boxes of spiral-binding supplies. My coworker wanted them, but only if she could also get a spiral-binding machine. Since we never did find a machine, we gave the supplies to a charity that already had one.

      Of note: We had only moved into the old office three or four years before we moved out. Someone packed up all of these supplies and moved them from the old-old office, but without a machine.

    11. NerdyPrettyThings*

      Yes!! I naively suggested that we get rid of ours when we needed room for a new piece of equipment. The fervor of the resounding “NO” was almost a little alarming. I’ve worked here for seven years and have never seen anyone use it.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I’m reminded of the story of the IT specialist who unplugged the fax machine to prove that no one used it. That one is a CLASSIC.

      2. Brain the Brian*

        I am reminded of the IT specialist in one of these threads who proved that no one was using the fax machine by surreptitiously unplugging it. CLASSIC.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh boy, this is giving me flashbacks to the comb binding machine we had for binding sales demo books at my old, horrible job almost 20 years ago. Jeez. I didn’t realize that would still make me twitch. Weirdly, it wasn’t a part of the job that I hated, but it was such a characteristic task that it really brought me back there for a second.

    13. CatMouse*

      When I worked for an engineering consultant traffic impact studies had to be provided in digital and spiral bound print format (in case the public wantes to see them in regards to the city, and for the client to wave around at meetings).

      Though to be fair, we only had a machine that cut the holes, I had to put the coils in by hand

    14. a.n.o.n.*

      i spiral bound large print outs for my own use until we went remote during covid, and i miss it :(

    15. Hydrangea McDuff*

      I can definitely tell you that you can manually “un bind” a spiral binding and then easily re-bind it.

  10. Annika Hansen*

    I have worked at a university for 25 years. I started taking my scissors with me from position to position. They started buying these scissors that were cheap and barely cut. Mine could be used as a weapon. I don’t even need scissors that often. If anyone needs to borrow my scissors, I always make sure I get them back. I work hybrid now so I cannot guard my scissors so closely, but so far I still have them in my desk.

      1. coffeespoons*

        I also work at a university, and also inherited a pair of glorious, old-school, all-metal scissors when I was hired over a decade ago. I’ve had five different workstations in three different jobs since then, and you bet those scissors have moved with me every single time. They cut everything and something about the combination of the sound and the physical sensory experience of using them is unmatched by any of the lesser plastic-handled cousins that were supplied to my co-workers. I will never give them up!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I took a job as admin support in a university department. My new coworker told me to mark my supplies with my name, because students and faculty borrow things. They use them across the hall in the lab and they never make it back. I had two awesome highlighters for 15 years, traveled to three jobs with my name taped to them. Still do that with scissors, staplers, tape dispensers. Do I look a wee bit loony? Maybe, but I’m not the one looking for office supplies.

      1. coachfitz13*

        My previous EA had a stapler on her desk that she had labeled with a paint pen “Stolen From [her full name]” to make sure no one took it.

        1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

          I put “Theft is unbecoming of a medical professional. Leave the stapler here.” on mine, and we went from buying 9 staplers a year to buying 0.

      2. Artemesia*

        I’d have a lockable ‘pencil box’ storage box for this stuff if I worked in a place like that and keep it in a locked drawer.

    2. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

      10 months into my new job and I finally received my own pair of scissors. It was like asking to move mountains.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        My previous lab was full of scissors that were TERRIBLE. Used to cut blots and never rinsed so the mechanism was always rusted shut. Then we got a few pairs of new beautiful scissors. I hid mine and wrote my name on them in three different places. I wish I had taken them with me when I left. They were so nice.

    3. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      The all-steel ones with black handles? Yeah, those are gold.

      I worked in a library in the aughts and was the person who ordered supplies. There was a hurricane on the way and we had a lot of shelves near windows, so my department was tasked with covering the books with plastic. The next week, I got a lot of requests for scissors, and added them to the supply order.

      I suspect the originals are still to this day on the tops of the shelves of books that we covered with plastic.

      (I also got yelled at because our department spent more on supplies than any other. Yes, we did. Those security strips that go inside the books to prevent theft cost 13 cents each back in those days and we processed scores of books a day.)

        1. Enough*

          Just looked for them. Found a site selling industrial scissors, 10 inches, nickel plated for $45.

        2. She of Many Hats*

          There’s a reason why sewers/crafters threaten severe bodily if an authorized person uses their scissors or if they are not returned immediately…A good scissors that holds it’s edge and fits your hand is a treasure!

          1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            All of my crafting scissors have been labeled with threats to anyone who uses them for other than their intended purpose. I also bought a couple dozen pairs of cheap scissors and scattered them in drawers around the house so nobody better have an excuse to go into my sewing box and take my fabric shears. It works 99% of the time.

          2. zinzarin*

            I have two pairs of scissors in my utility drawer at home. The cheapies for everything and the good ones that I keep in a plastic baggie so they don’t get used accidentally.

          3. Shermit*

            My partner thinks I bought him left handed scissors out love (I am right handed). Really I did it to keep him away from my craft scissors. I look at it as a win-win.

            1. Project maniac-ger*

              I had someone steal my left- handed scissors once. My only solace is that their hand probably cramped up using them. Justice.

          4. Susie Occasionally Fun*

            When I was around 6 I borrowed my mom’s fiskar fabric shears and forgot them in an outside playhouse, where they rusted shut. Mom died when I was 49 and for 43 years she regularly reminded me of my transgression. Other children might have done drugs, committed arson, or drove drunk. But none of them committed the cardinal sin of ruining my mom’s fiskars.

            1. CatMouse*

              I made my husband buy me a replacement pair of fiskar fabric shears when he borrowed mine (to cut fabric) and also left them outside. After buying a new pair, he won’t go near them!

              1. JustaTech*

                Early in my parent’s marriage my dad borrowed my mom’s fabric scissors to cut sandpaper.
                They managed to get through that, we had a great pair of “office” scissors, and no one ever took the fabric scissors out of the sewing room.

          5. Distracted Procrastinator*

            Yes, Ma’am. My scissors are guarded and my children were carefully taught Not To Use The Fabric Scissors. Unfortunately, my husband’s mother did not teach him this rule. That resulted in a scissor upgrade from the plastic handled Fiskars he ruined to all steel Ginghers. He didn’t do it again, though.

      1. Annika Hansen*

        Yes, those are the ones! When I started, many people had them in their desks. I think some people took them when they retired because within 5 years of starting there, they became hard to find. The replacement scissors sucked.

    4. Jackalope*

      I have an extra layer of possessiveness to that because at some point someone in my office purchased a handful of nice left-handed scissors that work really well. I was one of (as far as I know) only 2 people in my office who was a lefty when I found this supply (I told the other lefty so he could have functional scissors as well). This is the one office supply that you wouldn’t get from me unless you tore it out of my cold dead hands. I am especially possessive because I’ve had times in the past when I’ve had to stop people from tossing left-handed supplies (usually scissors, sometimes other stuff) because they tried them out, thought they were useless, and didn’t bother to imagine why someone else might find them useful. (I’ve also gotten, “Oh, we got rid of the left-handed equipment because we didn’t think anyone would need it.” Seriously, it’s TWO pairs of scissors/whatever in the whole supply cabinet, leave it there. We’re 10% of the population, so someone will need it at some point!)

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        Left-handed, but couldn’t imagine trying to use a left-handed scissors.

        OTOH a school exam chair with a writing surface that folded down from the left side instead of the right would have been worth its weight in gold.

      2. LeftyMom*

        My daughter is left handed and has an IEP for a number of conditions. She’s now a senior in high school but getting left handed scissors was harder than virtually everything else for all 13 years of school. We gave up on her high school art class and bought our own since the school couldn’t provide them for months and her AW teacher did all her cutting and we found it absurd that she was spending time in that instead of helping kids learn.

    5. PurplePartridge*

      I also had a personal pair of scissors at a job where scissors were for some reason hard to come by. We had a production station that was well stocked and had an actual paper cutter, but it was a floor down and across the hall so I often leant mine out when someone on our floor needed them. I absolutely sharpied my name with “do not steal” on them.

    6. Kyrielle*

      I started a job once and got all the usual office supplies except scissors. I was told if I needed them frequently I could request them and they’d be provided. I thought about it a few seconds, shrugged and said thanks, and didn’t request scissors.

      I had to borrow the admin’s scissors every so often – and you bet she knew who had them until they came back – but mostly I didn’t need scissors. And then they restructured and got rid of the admin and I had no idea where to get any scissors, because seriously, there were no scissors.

      I didn’t need them badly enough to source a pair, so I’m going with “we really didn’t need scissors” anyway, but at the time it bothered me and I can’t articulate why.

    7. many bells down*

      I’m a lefty so I made sure to get special lefty scissors. It worked in my college costume design classes – I was the only person whose scissors didn’t get stolen.
      The problem is that people pick them up and wander off with them before realizing they’re “weird” scissors, so I find them stashed in random spots.

      1. TootsNYC*

        label the “left-handed” and maybe people will leave them where they are. And any other lefty will be glad to know of them.

    8. Begonia*

      I strongly considered taking the scissors with me when I left a job a few years ago, they were the best ever. I still sometimes regret not doing it.

    9. zuzu*

      Yes! If you get a good pair of scissors, you must hang onto them.

      I may have liberated my scissors from my last job.

    10. Catabouda*

      I have a good stapler. I got a second stapler, the newer ones they order now, and THAT was the one I let folks borrow. My good stapler went home with me when we went remote. Now that we are hybrid, it’s still home with me and I still have to replace the stapler on my in person work desk every few months because they wander off.

      So – get another set of scissors and only lend those out.

    11. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Someone stole my good scissors from my desk where I work! No idea where they went or who took them (or why–everyone supposedly had their own). I had to get new ones ordered, because I actually do use mine pretty frequently.

      I swear though, in my house, scissors disappear more than anything else. I used to buy a new pair every December just so I had some for wrapping presents.

      Though what’s crazier is when my husband’s grandmother passed away and we were helping his parents clear out her house, there were no fewer than 30 different pairs of scissors tucked into pretty much anywhere you could fit a pair of scissors. Her main hobby was quilting, so it made sense she’d want to have scissors handy, but I told my husband that this must be where everyone’s scissors disappear to. I took like 10 of them to our house so that I wouldn’t need to buy any anymore.

      1. Possum's Mom*

        My brother the carpenter, who owns every tool imaginable, lived across the street from a cheap hardware store. One summer, when his wife decided it was time for them to clean and sort his workshop (their garage), they discovered 32 hammers of various types and weights scattered throughout shelves , drawers and sometimes still in their original packaging. That along with 5 more inside the house. It was easier for their kids to go across the street and buy one when they wanted to use one, rather than walk out to the garage chaos for a free hammer.

      2. CM*

        This will be my house when I die. Nobody else in my family is capable of putting scissors back where they found them, and I think they eat them or hand them out to friends or something, so once or twice a year I buy a multi-pack from Costco and stick one in every drawer, pencil holder, and supply box that I can find. They continue to disappear, but at least I can find one when I need one.

      3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        I got a bunch of boxes of craft stuff from a retired teacher/girl scout leader’s family, and there were so many scissors in there. I have spread them throughout the house and there are still plenty in the box downstairs in my craft room. (Unfortunately very few of them were the Good Scissors.)

        I have my fabric shears on my sewing machine desk, but my best scissors were a random dollar store purchase with weirdly high-quality nimble blades. They stay in my desk drawer at home and nobody touches them but me.

        When my daughter went off to college I sent her a few essentials including a pair of scissors. She didn’t understand why I sent them until she needed to use them and they were there.

    12. Oh yeah, Me again*

      Put those scissors in your briefcase/tote bag and carry them home daily! The extra weight is worth the security of knowing they will not go missing for good on one of your work-from-home days! (Or a locked drawer.)

      1. Possum's Mom*

        I used to tell my coworkers (all women) to store their valuable tools in an empty tampon box in their desk. Never lost track of scissors, etc. after that!

  11. Emby*

    my boss is obsessed with every member of their team having their own printer. nevermind that we’re only in the office once a week, have access to the general printers, and rarely ever print anything. we switched to hoteling and boss is trying to figure out how everyone can keep their individual printers.

    1. Wilbur*

      I’m in engineering, for some reason one of the old timers is adamant we hang on to a large format printer. I haven’t seen anyone use it in the last 5 years, and we have a printing service in the building. I’m not even sure how to print from it, it has to be 20 years old.

      My old boss was adamant that everyone keep their desktop computer for 3d modeling and simulation work. My laptop has always handled both just fine. I don’t think I’ve turned on my desktop in years and it’s not hooked up to a monitor anymore.

    2. Not my coffee*

      My boss would not allow me to have a $70 individual printer because they wanted to save the company money. Given the number of people who have individual printers, this feels petty and personal. We are a small company but our annual budget is $1.5 million USD.

      1. Not on board*

        To be fair, those $70 printers are expensive to run – the cheaper the machine, the more it costs to use. And they’re disposable because they’re not worth fixing when they break, so very environmentally unfriendly.

        1. OldHat*

          Would suggest that it’s better to rent printers than buy them. Easier to service and you are less out of luck when a part dies or the world repeats its supply of yellow ink cartridges of a certain shape with a specific chip. At least died ones can be used for parts for the company that rents them out. That’s slightly better than completely being sent to the landfill.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Printers are a loss leader for ink. The selling price of a printer is all but meaningless.

    3. Not on board*

      Not to mention that the small printers are much more expensive to print on – far better to have a big centralized printer or 2 that costs like a penny a page to print on vs anywhere from 10cents to a dollar per page.

  12. ChemistryChick*

    My company will Absolutely Not purchase anymore three ring binders because “we have plenty left over!” …except they’re all 4″ binders and ridiculous to use for equipment manuals/documentation that only need a 0.5″ binder at most.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Wish you could give them to an exec with a ten page document and a “put it in a binder, Boss!”

    2. Industry Behemoth*

      I wish people would return smaller binders for reuse after they no longer need them!

    3. bishbah*

      On the flip side, our office was swimming in 1” and 2” binders after we digitized all of our files circa 2019. (Which turned out to be excellent timing, enabling us to work from home a year later.) I sincerely hope our office manager found a good home for the binders and didn’t just toss them, but after a short while they were all gone.

    4. Jennifer C.*

      My office refused to buy 3-ring binders because we already had a ton of them in a closet. But the binders in the closet were old, dirty, and torn. I needed the binders to put court exhibits in and then take them to court and pass them out to people. No one saw any problem with me having to give a judge an exhibit binder with mysterious stains on it. I bought my own binders and hid them in my office.

  13. Dust Bunny*

    I’m honestly surprised at how not-sacred office supplies are here. We don’t waste them because a lot of ours are archival and thus expensive (relatively speaking, for office supplies) but beyond just using them responsibly nobody seems to care. We also don’t use much beyond pencils, acid-free paper, and good erasers (the white ones in the blue card sheaths). When they got us new furniture they offered desks, with drawers, as opposed to tables and nobody wanted them because we don’t actually use the drawers. I just have a pencil cup and a small dish for my erasers and a few binder clips.

    At my previous job it was pens. Always pens. People were absolutely ferocious about their favorite kind of pen.

    1. Enough*

      Love those erasers. Used them since college years and got my first one when I was taking my drafting classes. That,s all I bought my kids when they were is school.

    2. Blue highlighters*

      Ok also an archivist and I have to hide my good erasers. Student employees kept walking off with them for awhile.

      I also hide the acid free scrapbook tape (we use it to mend boxes) because again, it kept disappearing.

      The thing in our office is that we have literally hundreds of blue highlighters that were bought in 2016 when a coworker and I both stated we liked that color the most within earshot of the person in charge of office supplies. We don’t actually use highlighters that often, so I’m pretty sure that stash will outlast me.

      1. Usurper Cranberries*

        I did not know I needed acid free scrapbook tape until now, but now that I know it exists, I can think of so many times it would have been handy…

    3. Peep*

      Also an archivist, and I hide my good eraser. I have a cup with my favorite pencils, pens, mechanical pencils, and microspatula. I also hide my stash of hot pink post-it notes because orange and hot pink show up best on boxes. I also have a bowl for barely used gloves. >.> My desk also has coveted desk things that get passed down from previous employees — I have to keep an eye on my glass bok choy and Wells Fargo snake bank, otherwise someone’s going to liberate them.

  14. HigherEdSurvivor*

    We had BOXES of those old rubber finger condoms that are used for counting money, despite it being an administrative office that did not handle money, or paper files, or anything of the sort. By the time I was the office manager and in charge of the supplies, they were disintegrating and took an entire shelf unit in our very cramped supply room.

    I took them to the trash/recycling right outside our suite at the end of my work day (I was the last to leave) and arrived to them back in the supply closet the next morning. There was an all office nastygram about being wasteful from the Assistant Director who forbade that anyone gets rid of them.

    I slowly threw out a handful a day until there was only a single mostly empty box left by the time I left. The Assistant Director never noticed.

    1. Hedgehug*

      Oh my goodness, I only have 2 of them at my desk and could use more. Mail me some! Not the disintegrating ones though, haha

    2. TootSweet*

      I found out that these are great for separating coffee filters! I confess to taking one home and leaving in the package of filters so that I can get just one first thing in the morning when I’m still bleary-eyed.

    3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      Are they the ones about the weight of cheap latex gloves or the nicer heavier rubber ones? I use the rubber kind to protect my fingertips when embroidering.

    4. Chicago Anon*

      One of my brothers used to call those “rat rubbers,” which caught on in my family. I learned the hard way not to use that term among outsiders!

  15. colorful umbrella*

    When I was a student aide, I had to make copies of large documents for staff members. They were often paperclipped in a folder, and I had to remove the paperclips to make the copy. One guy had colorful paperclips instead of the standard metal, and was so freaking territorial about them. If I was doing several at one, I would occasionally forget to re-paper clip the original of one before putting it back into the folder, and he would come after me to collect his paperclip. Not because the document needed to be paperclipped again (it didn’t, that was just to make it easier for me to transport a bunch at once) but because he didn’t want to lose a single one of his colorful paperclips. I was 18 at the time and had no sense of norms so it didn’t strike me how strange this was until years later.

    1. Siege*

      When we moved, the admin staff found out that our office had been hoarding paper clips. I think they found upwards of 20,000 paperclips, ranging from standard metal to shaped styles.

      We will never use 20,000 paperclips. The sun will go cold first.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        We had the same thing when my office moved! It was an entire state department, but each division had their own supplies, which was really not that efficient for the basics, so when we were packing, we had everyone bring all of their supplies to a conference room and then sorted through it all. There were easily enough paperclips to last about 20 years. Everyone was notified that there was a (basically permanent) moratorium on buying ANY paperclips.

      2. Mim*

        I used to be an admin assistant at a law firm, and part of the process of closing out a case and preparing the physical file for being stowed away was removing all the binder clips and paperclips. For the most part it was a self-replenishing system, because I needed a steady stream of clips to provide for incoming stuff, but I would save the non-standard “fancy” clips either for my own needs at work or to carefully dole out only to the people who would most deserve and appreciate the tiny joy of receiving a wad of boring discovery held by a purple polka dotted clip.

        Haha, I did not have the space to hoard thousands of clips.

  16. Retired Govt Auditor*

    We had forms that we had to complete daily to charge hours to specific audits or other activities. Our secretary decided to put the pads of these forms in a locked cabinet because she said we were going through them too fast. They were pre-printed on both sides so they wouldn’t even have been good scratch paper.

  17. Siege*

    Bullhorns. (They do have a use in the 21st century.) We have four … unless one’s been borrowed by a local/left in someone’s car/has dead batteries/got loaned out to another organization … Half the staff act like the bullhorns are sacred idols and the other have act like they’d leave them on public transit if they were mildly inconvenient to carry. We spend a surprising amount of time figuring out where the bullhorns are, and you can’t just buy more; they’re $75 a throw, which kind of is more than you want to pay for something people seem to see as the equivalent of dinner mints.

    1. No bullhorns here*

      Oh jeez. We actually had to ban bullhorns because of an incident involving a well-meaning security guard trying to organize a group of students. A guy in uniform *in a Holocaust museum* sorting people (“you go to the left, you go to the right”) is…not a way to make visitors feel welcome.

      1. SLG*

        Um. I just gasped out loud at my desk. Probably completely well intended on that guy’s part and also … No.

  18. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Fine roller-ball pens, in a variety of colors.

    We used to do sequential edits of documents when doing proposals (these were monstrous, hundreds or thousands of pages, for the Pentagon). One person for technical stuff, the next for branding & consistency, a third for close copy-editing. We did these in sequence, on paper, so that whoever was typing it back into WordPerfect (yes, I’m old) could tell who wrote what, based on the color of pen, in case something was ineligible. And sometimes we had to write a lot by hand, so the fine and ultra-fine widths were preferred.

    Sure, red and green and blue are usually easy to get. But somebody in facilities ordered a couple boxes of light purple (might have even been freebies), and people would go through every supply cabinet in the place, late at night, in order to find them and see if there were other cool colors that nobody knew about.

    1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I used to have to make surveillance camera layouts. By the time I left we were cutting costs on the cameras and didn’t care as much about total coverage (and also I was much better at doing the layouts), but when I started, I’d use colored roller-ball pens and highlighters for the field of view, to make sure we had total coverage. I’d print out a map of the area on ledger-sized paper, add the camera locations, and fill in the field of view. If we needed to adjust some cameras, I’d use a different color of pen and highlighter for revisions.

      I liked (still like) the needle tips, but usually had to settle for very fine for the best colors.

      One year I found a reasonably-priced 24 or 48 box of deep purple needle tips on our usual office supply vendor, for about the same price as the blue and black ones, and those were my signature pens for YEARS. (It’s possible that some of the ones I have now are still from that batch, though I’d guess I’ve gone through the ones I took home.)

      1. Enough*

        I used green ink while in college. Saved me once. We had to submit paperwork each week to insure we would be allowed dorm visitation by the opposite sex on the weekend. I slept late and didn’t get it in. But the administrator in charge was sure he had seen my green filled out form and called me to give them a new copy.

    2. TootSweet*

      Off topic, but I have to say there’s one thing I miss about WordPerfect: reveal codes. Word doesn’t have anything comparable. *sigh*

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        WordPerfect is still available and fully supported as a modern office suite. And yes, it still has reveal codes. My office still uses it routinely. Is it suitable for you? It depends on how and how much you exchange files with other offices. If you only send straightforward documents with no fancy formatting, and you aren’t doing rounds of edits with outsiders, you can simply save the file as a Word file and it is fine.

        1. zuzu*

          I remember when we had to give up on WordPerfect at my law firm because our clients all used Word.

          Lawyers all over had the sads over that. It made editing documents so much harder.

      2. Oh yeah, Me again*

        Oh gosh! Me too! I’ve whined about that for the past 30 years (“But you can make MSword look just like WordPerfect!” they would always say. But, not!) Also, using the function keys with ctrl, alt, etc! Much faster than taking your hand off the keyboard to use the mouse and drop-down menus.

        1. Pipe Organ Guy*

          We used WordPerfect at our church for the weekly service booklet (anywhere from 28 to 40 pages, depending on complexity of that Sunday’s services and how much music there was). If push came to shove, I could have made Word look nearly as good as WordPerfect, but WordPerfect was easier and I could position things very precisely on the page. I could squeeze things, too, when that could make the difference between having everything on 28 pages versus having a 29th page needing a whole sheet of paper. Yay for Reveal Codes! I retired and my successor uses Adobe InDesign. I like the look I got in WordPerfect better.

            1. Windsorite*

              If it’s the full liturgy plus scripture readings *plus* sheet music (not just lyrics) it’s not that hard to get up there on the page count!

      3. Whoaitsme*

        Word has the ability to show some of the formatting codes including tab characters, paragraph marks, spaces, hidden text, optional hyphens and object anchors. BUT WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature is far richer and much more useful.

        1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          My mom’s typesetter back in the 1970s and only had a visible screen that was 2 lines. SW equivalent of WordPerfect reveal codes allowed her formatting that I have never been able to achieve in MS Word. Her output sheet had to go into a BW photo developer and was hung to dry. Then she cut and did the layout on a light table.
          I used version 3.0 and 3.1 of WordPerfect in the early ’80s. Still have a set of install discs, but no system to load them with.

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I foolishly bought sale purple pens with the supplies many years ago and people were FERAL about them. There were tears, hoarding episodes, people stalking the supply company’s website to see if they were available again, and over the top accusations – it was really one of those learning moments for me when I realized sometimes people just act in a way you could never see coming.

      I kept one after it was dry simply because I and the few others who remember that will laugh every time we see it.

    4. Zelda*

      Not me, sneaking around the office after everyone has left, seeing if anyone has two or more purple dry-erase markers. Now, I am an honorable person, and I would *never* take anyone’s last purple dry-erase marker. But maybe, if they already have *two* purple dry-erase markers…

  19. Richard Hershberger*

    My stint working in a biglaw firm convinced me I never wanted to do that again, but to their credit they didn’t worry about office supplies. They had multiple supply cupboards that were amply stocked with all the routine stuff, and were open to anyone. You just went to the cupboard and got your file folders or whatever. This showed understanding that having someone whose time is billable shouldn’t have to waste time chasing down the authorization to get more sticky notes. It is almost as if someone in a position of authority gave the matter three to five minutes of thought, rather than indulging in a reflexive reaction to a line item on a budget spreadsheet.

    1. zuzu*

      One thing Biglaw did right was have ample exhibit tabs available at all times, lettered or numbered, and the lettered tabs even went up into the double-letter range.

      Made those late-night affidavit and appendix assembly projects a lot easier back in the day.

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      My boss still does that. We’re engineers but the same principle applies. He’s semi-retired but I guess he likes shopping? There’s everything from batteries to bulldog clips to the coloured printer paper one of the admin people likes to print IMPORTANT NOTICES on.

      The one problem is that no matter how many whiteboard markers he buys we never have any*. I am sure someone eats them.

      (* well, each whiteboard will have one, mostly-empty, usually black ink, marker. If you want whiteboard makers you tour the desks in the open plan office and usually there will be working markers on desks where there are no whiteboards)

  20. archangelsgirl*

    Some things you will still find in classrooms
    filmstrips (projectors all gone)
    slides (ditto)
    cassette tapes (ibid)
    overhead sheets and markers (no projectors)
    encyclopedias
    novel sets from the 50s, 60s, 70s…
    the novel studies that go with them… I still know teachers teaching Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Cay, etc.
    nonfiction books discarded from the library, but hey, the misinformation “might come in handy” in the classroom
    I’m a teacher. I’ve tried to discard all of these at various times in my career only to be told by a colleague they might come in handy.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I have not read Island of the Blue Dolphins since I was a kid, but going from distant memory I don’t see why it would still be a cromulent book for a class. Or has the Racism Fairy gotten to it in the interim? Now I don’t want to reread it, as it might join the list of unspeakable books I loved in my youth.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        My recollection is that it isn’t actively BAD, but if I were putting together a curriculum today I’d probably go for something by an actual indigenous author.

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        This critique covers a lot of the issues with Island of the Blue Dolphinshttps://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-critical-look-at-odells-island-of.html. The author of the critique is Native American (Nambé Pueblo) and includes an addendum by an Aleut woman who had bad experiences as a child because of the book (“I was taunted for it. I was asked by children and teachers to explain why Aleuts were “so mean.” And no matter what I said about my family, especially my grandmother, it wasn’t believed.”)

    2. Llellayena*

      And of course the encyclopedias are missing volumes D and Y, still list Pluto as a planet, are debating Russia vs USSR and only go up to the 39th president…

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Back in the 1990s I taught at a Catholic school that did not replace books often. I found a dictionary that listed Adolf Hitler simply as “Chancellor of Germany.”

      2. SarahKay*

        A group of friends and I spend a week in a holiday cottage. It had both a scrabble set and a dictionary. The only problem was that the dictionary was 30 years old.
        A new rule was promptly agreed – if a word isn’t in the dictionary, but the majority agree that it is a word now, then the player was allowed it and the challenge over-ruled.

    3. Be Gneiss*

      I have a collection of some wildly outdated science books for my own amusement, but they probably aren’t best for the classroom!

      1. Chicago Anon*

        If you were writing a novel, or an academic paper, and needed to know “what did people know about X in 1913?” then the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica really would come in handy.

        I suppose it’s available on archive.org, though.

        1. Emily Byrd Starr*

          My mom still has her World Book Encyclopedia from 1953. She has it at the family lake cottage, and we often will pursue it just to see how much things have changed since then (i.e., a picture of Boston where the tallest building is the Custom House, a picture of the family sitting down to the evening meal and they are all dressed up like it’s a 5-star restaurant, etc.)

        2. Studious*

          My family owned a 1912 set! Got me a good grade on a paper about Peter the Great. Newer upgrades had to continually compress older information, so the older entries were more complete.

        3. RMNPgirl*

          I think it’s the 1911 Britannica that is actually considered one of the best and a collector’s item. My parents have it. It’s beautifully written and was published before WWI, when people thought we were reaching some pinnacle of human society.

    4. Roy G. Biv*

      Ah yes, the pack rat’s battle cry: “it might come in handy”

      Signed,
      Pack Rat in Recovery

    5. evens*

      In cleaning out a colleague’s classroom after he retired, I found thousands of dollars worth of laser discs. The district doesn’t even have a laser disc player anymore.

      I don’t have a problem with teachers still teaching Island of the Blue Dolphins (or Hamlet, or Pride and Prejudice).

      1. lyonite*

        I was embarrassingly far into high school history before it dawned on me that Ibid was not a very prolific Roman author.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      A few years ago I tackled the Mountain of Things That Can Go In The Printer. This was at home several years after we ditched the inkjet printer for laser. We had several boxes of transparencies and a whole bunch of craft supplies for inkjet printers – iron-on printable patches, window clings, perforated cards. The pile of discards was at least two feet tall by the time I finished and I posted a photo to Facebook because I was amused. About five minutes later I had text from the office manager of our synagogue asking if she could have the stuff. She took all of it.

    7. KTinDC*

      I had the opposite of the first one! No filmstrips but I had the projector in my school library, and faced a riot from some teachers when I tried to get rid of it. This was in 2007. I did eventually manage to sneak it out, but I learned my lesson about asking people about stuff.

    8. Hagia*

      ‘ the misinformation “might come in handy” in the classroom ‘

      Okay, this has convinced me to finally get rid of my decade-old medical textbooks and test prep books. I hereby acknowledge that they will not come in handy.

    9. Glazed Donut*

      Inheriting a classroom from someone who retired is both its own circle of hell and highly entertaining for all these reasons!

      1. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

        I had to do this 8 times. These people had spent 35 years in the same classroom.

        Amazing how a clandestine case of beer will convince the school custodian to leave a “dumpster on wheels” outside of your classroom for as long as you needed it.

    10. Nea*

      Oh. Oh no. I remember The Cay from reading it as a kid and I liked it then, but now that I’m an adult I look at how Timothy was written and nooooooooo!

      1. JustaTech*

        I met the author when I was in 5th grade and he told us how he got his start in sports journalism – by blatantly plagiarizing a famous sports writer!

        We were all very into “island survival” stories at the time (Robinsons Caruso, the Voyage of the Mimi, etc) but none of us quite knew how to respond to this adult telling us that he did this “bad thing”.

    11. Wednesday*

      Not The Cay!! I had to read that in 6th and then somehow had to read it again in 7th. Couldn’t stand it either time.

    12. just a random teacher*

      I still use the overhead sheets and markers, but I’m probably an edge case. I teach math, and sometimes it is really useful to be able to do removable layers of things over other things, usually when graphing and comparing various things (rigid transformations of figures on the plane, mostly). At this point, the bottom layer is a piece of paper and the whole thing goes on my document camera rather than an overhead projector, but it was an annoying set of things to have to re-accumulate the last time I switched school districts because it went from “thing everyone has” to “oh, we threw those out” between jobs.

      I was also probably the last person to give up my actual overhead projector in my previous school, but that was at least partially because my data projector and several other things had been stolen one weekend but they left the overhead projector, so I knew it was the thing that was not a theft target and would thus reliably be where I left it. The document camera was better for most things, but the overhead was only slightly worse and much better than writing on the board, so it was a backup worth keeping since I had the storage space in case the data projector got stolen again.

      1. LikesToSwear*

        I had a math teacher in high school that couldn’t use the board, so she used an overhead projector and transparencies. I think she had enough for a couple of weeks.

        It was amazing how helpful that was for going back and forth, or providing notes/examples to a student who missed class for a couple of days.

    13. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I admit to a habit of hanging on to old textbooks and stuff like that because they’re good raw materials for paper crafts.

    14. Ink*

      A much-beloved teacher at my high school was king of this. The school was old, and he somehow swung a remodel in his favor so he ended up with two classrooms connected by an interior door, with one’s old exterior door to the hall bricked over. No one else had an office, but if he didn’t the fire marshal would probably have some objections- the walls and his massive shelves were COVERED as it was.

      He had the only remaining blackboard. He had an overhead projector, dvd player, and vcr. He required all work to be written with a black pen, in cursive. He devoted a bit of class time to cursive when he started to get kids who hadn’t learned in elementary, but retired a couple years later.

      We used to joke about what he/his wife/the school were going to do with all the stuff CRAMMED into those rooms when he retired. Enough of it was mainly kept as part of lesson plans that we knew he would want to leave it for his successor. Well, COVID happened, and he finally had to retire. Health concerns meant he couldn’t even pack up the stuff he wanted to take home himself, and plenty was, indeed, left behind to be the new teacher’s problem.

      The school hired his son.

      1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        the poor son to have to sort thru his dad’s work material, and anticipate having to do it again with his parents’ home when his dad passes.

    15. don'tbeadork*

      I left a bunch of that kind of stuff behind me when I retired. I suspect that someone had glommed onto them the day after I left the school. Quite likely the teacher across the hall.

      And binders. All the binders. Even though none of us have had the kids keep a physical notebook for at least 5 years.

    16. Gumby*

      But do you still have ditto machines?

      The outdated non-fiction books *could* be an interesting project in how knowledge has changed / been added to over the years. Or “what was thought about [topic] in [year].” The HPS student in me would find that type of thing fascinating.

    17. Ey-not-Cy*

      I inherited/moved into a school library 15 years ago, and feel like I am still throwing away stuff.
      I did get rid of the filmstrips and projectors.
      Gave away/sold record players (one to the drama department for a prop, lol.)
      Tossed VHS tapes and players.
      Our art department still uses the overhead projectors, so I still have a couple of those, plus so many random light bulbs.
      Bought a converter to convert all the slides to digital, so didn’t have to keep those; (they were also art related.)
      Discarded nonfiction books and encyclopedias. (They also make great paper project books.) We’ve done a lot of blackout poetry.
      6 Decades worth of several magazines–older than me, but none of the ones I could have sold to make money were there. Sigh.
      *I still “won” the hoarder award a couple of years ago. I told them if they wouldn’t ask me for such weird things I wouldn’t keep having to keep things. I take some comfort in knowing that at least I do/will throw things away.
      I’m nearing retirement myself. I’m sure my replacement will look around and wonder why I kept some of the things I have, too. :)

    18. Project maniac-ger*

      “If the history book doesn’t have Obama, we do not need to keep the whole set. Just one or two.”

    19. Jo*

      The overhead sheets have a fair number of uses as a sort of disposable using as an overlay, for tracing, with dry erase markers. Not sure if that warrants ordering MORE when current supply runs out. But definitely worth saving what you have – if they are actually being used.

  21. Strict Extension*

    At my last workplace, we eventually had to buy everyone a different colored stapler so they could be tracked when they went missing. We also hid decent scissors in our desks because of their habit of wandering. That’s something I’ve carried over to my new workplace. People are surprised I don’t have scissors because they don’t see them in my pen caddy and seem to think it’s weird that they’re tucked into the back of my drawer.

      1. Possum's Mom*

        Again, people! Use that empty tampon or pads box to keep your valuables safely tucked away in your desk. They seem to emit dangerous toxins to theiving hands

    1. Acadia Baker*

      I, too, keep the “good scissors” in my desk. A colleague once came by to use the decoy scissors in my pen caddy and remarked, “Whoa, you should get some better scissors.” To which I replied, “Eh, I hardly ever use them,” as I put my hand in the drawer and patted the Fiskars.

  22. Jester*

    I worked in an office with a high turnover and a single pair of scissors for the entire floor. When the keeper of the scissors inevitably moved one, they would bequeath them to someone else like they were an inheritance worth millions of dollars.

    1. US fed*

      This reminds me of the office knives. Our government offices didn’t used to have as much security, so folks brought in knives for things like slicing cake, etc. When the offices locked down post 9/11, knives became precious hoarded resources, since you couldn’t bring in a “weapon” anymore.

      1. Fed Anon*

        Same experience here. I’ve only been a Fed for a couple years, but I have been told that our knife collection is precious for exactly that reason. We’re big on snacks.

      2. Also Fed*

        Same lol, we also have a secret kitchen knife stash for potlucks lol

        My office also decided a few years ago that razor blades/box cutters were unsafe and tried to get rid of them. Everyone now has their secret box cutter/box of replacement blades because our job is just impossible to do with out them! They tried to replace them with essentially kiddie scissors… not the same lol

        1. JustaTech*

          Our old safety officer worked some place where they decided that box cutters were “too dangerous” and insisted that people use (dull, crappy) scissors.
          After several people ended up needing stitches from trying to open or break down boxes with bad scissors they bought everyone their own box cutter.

  23. Kabong*

    White out is still around even though it is never used anymore, but no one ever would dream of getting rid of it.

    The rest are things people still use a lot:

    Post-its with some preferring the standard size and others preferring the slightly larger and most liking the fun colors more than standard yellow.

    Graph paper notepads vs. standard lined notepads. We are engineers so need to draw things sometimes in the field or in meetings and graph paper is so much better.

    Specific pens – some pens just write so much better than others. The specific pens that are ordered only at the main office, not at the regional offices, my boss would always grab a couple boxes anytime he was in the main office for us as the pens we were able to order were basically crappy cheap bic pens.

    I WFH now so I just get whatever supplies I prefer and occasionally pick up a few notepads or post-its when I’m in the main office about twice a year. I do get reimbursed when I feel it is warranted, though for a pen here or there, I don’t worry about that myself.

    1. Former lab rat*

      LOL – we hoarded semi-log graph paper in spite of the fact all graphs are now done on the computer. This was a microbiology lab. HOWEVER when I was doing a growth curve I would plot it out, time point by time point, on the graph paper – that way I could see when I was approaching stationary phase. I could keep the graph right by the spec instead of walking back and forth to my desk and firing up the computer. After the experimebt was done I’d plot on the computer.

      Other commenter have said binder clips were saved. We had a drawer of large binder clips, glass plate,s and spacers for pouring protein gels. Hadn’t been used in decades since it is SO much easier to buy the gels these days.

      Pen and markers – every single person had a favorite kind and I had to order separately for each person.

    2. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I hate correction tape- I was using it yesterday, it unraveled, I popped the container open, spun it back, and now can’t get the container closed, so now the whole thing is useless.

      I really miss sponge White-Out.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I will use white out on a manila envelope tab. (Yes, I still deal with some paper files.)

    4. Minimal Pear*

      I actually had to use a bunch of white-out last year for something in my personal life! Or, well, I used those things that dispense white strips, because that’s what the store had.

    5. Coffee Protein Drink*

      Oh wow, you just reminded me of something I haven’t thought of in years.

      I’m an old bat, and this was a temp job I had in the late 1980’s. I was working for an insurance company and there were some documents that we had to fill out (I don’t remember if we typed or hand-wrote) that had multiple NCR copies.

      We had Liquid Paper in white, pink, green, and yellow because the errors had to be corrected on each copy. I wonder what they’re doing now…

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I was just thinking of those! My dad used to bring them home from work and little me always wanted to use them as paint.

        (And the liquid paper smell! It’s still so familiar in my mind)

    6. Your Mate in Oz*

      graph paper notebooks! We use engineering notebooks for a lot of stuff despite being 99% computer based.

      I bought my own to work once. One of the directors saw my notebook and went “where did you get that” in a very stern voice. I quailed a bit and he said “oh, no, I just really, really want one”. I sent him a link and within a week the supply cupboard had A4 and A5 graph paper notebooks as well as dot paper ones (just dots in a grid. For some things more useful than grid lines). Plus that director has the special luxury edition ones with thick card endplates instead of thin card.

    7. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      I fondly remember ordering post-its for User Experience designers. They went through a lot of them, and liked to have distinct colors to mark various purposes. That meant that I learned which sets in the supply catalog provided the best span of colors, and upon their joining the department I presented each new designer with something like a 10-pack of various colors to get them started.

      The stack of post-its on my own desk was composed of the thin remains of the discarded leftovers that the designers shed here and there.

  24. Not on fire today*

    I worked in a shared office with six other people, working with kids, and we only had two tape dispenser. Why?!?

    Also, office chairs. They felt like they were decades old. Some didn’t raise or lower. Some didn’t lean (others fell backwards). Arm rests would be stuck at wrong heights. If a staff person left, everyone tested that chair against their own to see which was better, and kept the better one. That meant the newest staff always had the worst chair.

  25. Hedgehug*

    “despite having no function in the 21st century.”

    Well according to that comment I wrote a few weeks ago complaining about my coworker constantly ruining my white out tape and everyone else deep diving into why we use white out tape in 2024, I’m going to say my white out correction tape lol.

    Don’t touch my white out tape!

    By the way, that coworker no longer touches it. He just asks me to do it for him lol.

    1. Kivrin*

      I love my correction tape. I use it in my bullet journal that I use for my weekly to-do lists even though I have all the digital calendars. I need the handwritten, colour-coded journal as a “touch grass” type of grounding point lol. And I use correction tape with some surprising frequency in it.

      1. Hedgehug*

        I hate digital calendars. My brain just cannot use them. It’s out of sight for me. I use a physical day planner at work, as does my boss. We are both pen and paper people and we regularly compare our day planners to make sure we have the same appointments…to make sure we are literally on the same page, ha! I’m a 35 year old millenial and day planners were drilled into us in school for such a long time.

        1. HBJ*

          Same, I cannot do a digital calendar. All hard copy for me. It’s also a lot harder to accidentally erase something out of a physical planner than a digital one!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You should have seen the adoration in the eyes of the Editorial team that my boss took on when we told them that they could order whiteout tape instead of the brush kind that was available in the supply room. And then we let on that they could have colored Post-Its and I think the room was filled with the golden light of miracles.

    3. Awesome Sauce*

      I have definitely used both white out correction tape and liquid paper within the past 12 months. I was marking up an engineering drawing by hand during a workshop and I made a mistake.

    4. Ama*

      During the MLB playoffs last year, there was a really complicated play on the field that then got overruled, and the color guy (a former player) was complaining that his scorecard was now all messed up (he scored in ink, apparently). The play by play guy offered him his white out tape and there was a hilarious pause before the color guy admitted he didn’t know how to use it.

      I don’t know, I thought it was funny.

    5. Usurper Cranberries*

      There’s a whole niche market among the paper planner folks for white out tape that’s off white to match off white notebooks, white out tape in different sizes (I have 3mm wide and 5mm wide in tiny travel-friendly dispensers), old-school liquid white out in precision dispensers, etc.

  26. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    For some reason that literally no one understands, my office does not have an “office supplies” cabinet/cupboard/what-have-you for even the basics like pens, file folders, tissues, etc. We have to look at the approved vendor’s catalog (which at least is online now), fill out a request in a spreadsheet (one row per thing), and the office admin will order it. For example, I cannot grab one (1) highlighter when I need one; I have to request it specifically, and they only come in a box of 6 or 12 or whatever, and will arrive between 5-10 business days later. Do I have a pen cup full of my exact preferred pens? Yes. Do I think this system is sane? Absolutely not.

    1. The Analyst*

      What happens when someone leaves a role for another company? Are their ordered supplies bequeathed to others in a weird ceremony? Dumped in the trash? Hoarded by an admin somewhere in a closet that could be deemed a “supply closet” but is privately guarded? This is so impractical, I love it.

    2. MissouriGirl in LA*

      Oh….are you working in my agency? Open the so-called supply cabinet and I have no clue what’s in there except nothing that I would need. LOL And when I did ask for something, like a couple of notepads, I got the entire pack.

  27. FricketyFrack*

    I have a stapler meant for people with weak hands or carpal tunnel or whatever, because my old job involved an extreme amount of stapling, and it’s my baby and I would shank anyone who tried to take it. I barely use it anymore, but I don’t care. It’s the best.

    We also all really like a particular pen but we have about 2439278934 other pens that have been bought over the years, so we finally decided to quit buying the ones we really like until we’ve used the others, so the favorite pens got hoarded a bit, too. Sadly, I used up my last one, so now I’m stuck with inferior pens. I’m working my way through the Signos and the it’ll be the G2s and then maybe the crappy off-brand ones will have dried out and we can get the good ones ago.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        I *have* been making extra effort to write, in an attempt to use up some of them. Plus, my coworker accepts passport applications, which requires a TON of writing, so she can go through a pen every couple of weeks. At this rate, we’ll be through the backlog in oh, 3 years?

  28. The Prettiest Curse*

    My previous job was with early childhood educators, who laminate just about everything. At some point prior to my arrival in that job, they purchased 2 manual (hand-crank) laminators that were never used because they didn’t work. Apparently they felt bad about their failed attempt at eco-friendliness, because those things sat there gathering dust for years till we were forced to get rid of them due to our storage space being relocated.

    1. ST*

      The principal of the school where I work decided that laminating was killing the environment and got rid of the laminators. So now one of the early childhood teachers has a contraband laminator that you *might* get to use if you’re in the know.

  29. Cat Rolls*

    I’m a vet tech. One of the doctors at my place washes and hoards her gloves in a drawer after every surgical procedure. She never re-uses them; she just…hoards them. In a drawer. When she gets up to about 30 pairs I prune the colony down to 10 because if she fills up that drawer, she just moves to another one.

    1. Siege*

      I have to say, I’ve become the vehicle between hoarders and the trash (give me your hoarded fabric, I’ll make sure it goes to a nice farm upstate and frolics with the lambs and bunnies (goes to the thrift store)) and it’s a way to make a real difference for people. If it just goes away, that’s okay, but if they have to be the agent of its going-away, that’s impossible. So kudos to you for pruning the colony!

      1. Numbat*

        isn’t it so weird how people will refuse to take something to the bin and “waste it” but will happily give it to you to… take care of it.

    2. JustaTech*

      Oh man, my old lab manager would have had some words with your vet!

      I worked in an academic lab but our grant actually had money *specifically* for consumables, so we didn’t have to be nearly as thrifty as some other labs. If our lab manager caught you re-wearing gloves she would read you the riot act about how unsafe it was, and how it could ruin your experiment.
      I was kind of confused by this (it was my first lab) until I had to borrow another lab’s instrument and I was told to take a box of gloves as an offering.

  30. Be Gneiss*

    At OldJob, we made a product that was packed and sold by weight, and which had a 2-stage filling process. The weight of the containers had to be verified at each stage. When I started in 2015, they were still using old-school balances from the 1940s – 50s. It took a 2 year campaign to switch to digital scales…and I was not allowed to get rid of the old scales. DOZENS of them were thrown in a heap on a pallet, wrapped in plastic, and put in a rack for storage. I was told we had to keep them, just in case we had a power outage.
    Reader…*none* of our processing equipment could run during a power outage. If the power went out, we’d have nothing to weigh.

  31. IT hoarding*

    One company had a box of PC components. Not a new stash of repair parts in packaging. But ancient scavenged parts tossed in a box. I found RAM sticks with megabytes of memory in an age were 4 gigs were standard. There were PCI cards that had no identifiable purpose. We were told it was a just in case box but because everything was tossed into a box the likelihood of anything working was slim.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Just in case there’s an alien invasion after an apocalypse and you need to reinforce your vehicle Mad Max style, you can use those pieces as armor or projectiles.
      Duh.

    2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Oooh, IT hoarding is BAD. 15 boxes of cables, sorted by kind if you’re lucky. You only need one about twice a year, but you never know WHICH one.

      I had a job where we always replaced the heat sinks in servers we bought with a better one, and we had an entire shelf worth of the old heat sinks, because they were perfectly good… the third time I organized that space, I sent them all to tech recycling, and no one noticed.

      We also accumulated a LOT of thermal paste, because it comes in itty bitty tubes and you can never find it when you need it.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        “It’s still perfectly good” is going on my mother-in-law’s headstone. Every visit, she brings us a box of “perfectly good” trash.

      2. Sharpie*

        IT hoarding is legendary. During my military days, we had big olive drab crates assigned to, and full of:
        1. Mice
        2. Keyboards
        3. ‘Kettle’ (power) leads
        4. Removable hard drive cases (as in, both the cases we’d put the drives into and the case that we’d put into the computer – basically rendering the hard drive as removable as a floppy disc so it could be locked away if had classified material on it. Why yes, this was back in the noughts!)

        And probably stuff I’ve forgotten. I built my very first computer, and monitor, base unit, keyboard and mouse all came from different manufacturers, the last two and the power leads dug out from our stores.

        1. mischief*

          I really hope people start calling that decade the naughties (or, I suppose, noughties).

    3. periwinkle*

      You’ve just described my husband’s home office. So many cables that only work with peripherals that haven’t been sold since the 1990s, but “you never know, I might need it.”

      1. Oh yeah, Me again*

        We had a projector crisis at the clubhouse recently: no ca le yo connect the laptop to projector for a program. I rummaged thro that box of old cords and found one either the right connectors for both devices. sometimes. . .”you never know”. . . it really does come in handy.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I do have a box with one of each cable type and adaptor – you rarely need them, but when you do it’s incredibly useful. I also spent a very productive hour a couple of years ago using coloured electrical tape to colour code all the cables, with matching tags on the various devices. That way, I can quickly grab the exact cable I need.

    4. Ashley*

      I had a place that had an IT closet full of old computers. No one was sure what to do with them. I talked to the in house person who dealt with IT before you called in the big guns to ask them why the room was covered in old computers. They didn’t know how to dispose of them. I got so much money in Staples rewards and was a hero to a few people for taking on the task of disposing of all the old computers and cables.
      We ended up finding a slew of typewriters, but that required an office email to see if anyone wanted to claim them. The office hoarder had all three of them in their office for over a year until the company president forced them to clean for safety.

    5. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      When I started this job in 2021, there was a drawer of 3 inch floppies.

      The computer they gave me was from 2011 and I was advised not to turn it off because they weren’t sure it would ever turn back on.

      I had a SQUARE LED monitor, a concept I didn’t know existed and can’t wrap my head around, despite the fact that I used it for about 8 months.

      1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        I inherited a very small square monitor when a colleague who had been at the company forever left, and the monitor was deemed old and useless. I thought otherwise, and had enough monitor ports on the reception desk computer to plug it in. That was the monitor I used to keep the team chat and other things I needed to keep up with visible at all times. (And my phone, since holding my phone and using it during downtime had the appearance of slacking even though I was caught up on all my work, but having my phone plugged in discreetly and occasionally checking my messages on the computer was unexceptionable.)

    6. zuzu*

      At one job I had, the AV guy had a hoard of old AV equipment. Some of it was legit, like we did need a VCR because we had VHS tapes in our collection and we needed a way to access them, at least until he was able to digitize them.

      But a lot of what was in there was crap he kept because he didn’t want to part with it because it was cool or interesting to him, or he “might find a use for it.”

      And then one day, I came out of my office, which was across from the AV hoard room, and noticed there was water coming out from under the door of the AV hoard. It was raining in there. The ancient air handler that was above the hoard had leaked into the hoard. The AV guy sprang into action and pulled out his babies, but a lot of his junk was beyond saving. Fortunately, the actual good stuff was out of the reach of the water because it was either in his office or in a staging area near his office because it got a lot of use. But his hoard was largely destroyed, and frankly it made not a bit of difference to his ability to do his actual job or anyone’s ability to access even the more obscure items in the collection.

      1. zuzu*

        However, one good thing that came of it — the loss of so much AV equipment was the kick in the pants that was required to get the air handler finally replaced. We just didn’t mention how useless what was lost actually was.

    7. Pita Chips*

      That sounds like the Box of Random Hardware ™ that I have in my closet. Even though I prune it every time I move, it fills up again.

      I could probably ditch the charging cables from my iPhone 3….

  32. Ssssssss*

    The weird relic that we eventually got rid of (but still probably went through at least 2 office moves): an electric typewriter. I think the tipping point was when someone tried to get me to actually use it for something and I had to tell them that I didn’t actually have a clue how to use it.
    Supplies that I swear replicate like tribbles: binders and binder clips. And yet, when someone is looking for a bunch, we don’t have any/enough that are quiiiiite what the person is looking for.
    Item that someone HAD TO HAVE: thermal binding machine. Used once and never again.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      We had one until a couple years ago. An email went out informing people that the two typewriters will no longer be available.
      I thought that was fitting.

      1. MKR*

        At my first adult job, c2002, we had a non-electric typewriter. But it wasn’t a relic! We had to submit things to the Federal government sometimes, and this particular program had some forms that had not been digitized in a fillable way. And you had to use That Form, or your submission would be rejected. We also had to submit printed photos from 35 mm film, by actual physical mail, with typed labels. The labels could be done by a computer, though it was often easier to put them through the typewriter than our finicky printer.

    2. CL*

      I worked somewhere with an electric typewriter at least until 2007. None of the new hires had ever used one and we could barely find replacement ribbons. Unfortunately, there was a business reason we still had to keep it around and functioning.

      1. Caro488*

        Our library had one until 2 years ago. Needed it to type labels for books. Except the books came to us processed with labels. So we used it to repair labels maybe twice a year. The only ribbon was so used that we had to type letters over 3-4times to get a complete dark impression. We finally refused to use it.

      2. Ashley*

        We used to have a typewriter where I work. They finally got rid of them. We still have the ribbons and correction tape in the supply closet.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Typewriters were legitimately, if niche, useful up to, oh, let’s say ten years ago. There were standard forms (court forms, in my personal experience) that even if available in pdf, still had to be physically filled out. The ubiquity of fillable pdfs is what finally killed this off. At this point, if I encountered a form that had to be physically filled out, I would use a pen and my neatest writing (which actually is pretty legible, if I am motivated).

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I still sometimes get forms on paper that have to filled out by hand. In fact when I was credentialed for a hospital staff a few months ago, several of the forms had to be printed out, filled out by hand, and then scanned and Emailed back. It was nuts. And I’m a doctor. Why oh why do you want me to fill something out by hand? We no longer have a typewriter or I would definitely have hauled it out.

        1. Nightengale*

          I’m a doctor with a handwriting disability. (not the joke about illegible doctor handwriting. an actual neurological condition affecting handwriting.)

          I now have all but the most rudimentary of forms scanned in so I can convert to PDF and fill them out that way. Or I write a letter through the EHR providing the same information. So the school/disability determination agency/insurance etc can actually read what I wrote.

          My favorite is the school who insisted my documentation for disability accommodations for my patient be on their form (which also used all sorts of outdated language.) I had to talk the school into giving me a 504 accommodation of signing by hand and attaching all the rest of the info typed so I could complete the form for my patient 504 accommodation.

          Also half my life is still in fax. And my “paperless” practice has papers piled up all over my desk. . .

        2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Then, the person at the other end, has to manually enter all the info from your scanned document into Salesforce or Epic or whatever. (This was my job for half a decade until just last year.)

        3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

          At a college I attended, one the offices would not accept any form filled out on a computer because they could only accept “originals.” The form itself was a fillable PDF, so I had to print the form and fill it out by hand. Which would make sense if the next step was to mail or physically bring it to the office. Nope. The next step was to scan the document to a PDF and upload it on the office’s document repository website.

      2. Not on board*

        I used to use a typewriter to fill things out all the time. But if you have the full version of Adobe or comparable program, you can scan the document and then turn it into a fillable form. I’ve done this with everything because I hate nothing more than having to write in a form. We have customers who use typewriters for things like cheques and multipart forms which require pressure for the print to go through to the 2nd or 3rd page.

    4. Beancounter Eric*

      We still have an IBM electric at my current office. It gets used every month or two.

      Too many non-fillable PDF’s.

      1. Industry Behemoth*

        Or the fillable field isn’t big enough, and the font size isn’t adjustable.

        Or the fillable field just weirds out.

      2. CR*

        In that case, I would print it out and fill it in by hand! I would never think of using a typewriter.

        1. Oh yeah, Me again*

          I have to hand address envelopes – because our printers won’t handle them – I think that looks unprofessional. I’d love to have one typewriter around the place for that. (and single lables)

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I used a typewriter YESTERDAY!

      We still make our own labels for our books at my library, and the label printer refuses to use the entire label, so for longer call numbers, they need to be typed. Also, for faded labels, after we changed cataloging systems five years ago, it’s actually now faster to just type them in the typewriter than scan the barcodes and pull them from our system and plug that into the label printer program to be printed out, because there’s no good way to do them that doesn’t end up being a lot more individual typing plus pointing/clicking (I’m hoping when we change cataloging systems again next year that I can go back to just needing to scan the books to build the file for the label program).

      Also, we use the typewriter to fill out the donor info note on our book plates that go inside donated books. If we were allowed to have individual printers instead of just the label printer and the giant, finicky shared copier/scanner/printer that won’t take sticker paper, I could create them on the computer and just print them out as needed onto sticker paper–but because our institution got rid of everyone’s individual printers a few years ago, I have no choice but to use the typewriter on the special-ordered crack&peel paper that has our institutional seal on it.

      Back when I had student employees, it was always fun to get to teach them how to use the typewriter. I don’t mind using it. I just worry about the day it becomes impossible to get typewriter tape for it. But that’s Future Jaunty Banana Hat I’s problem.

    6. Oh yeah, Me again*

      We had a projector crisis at the clubhouse recently: no ca le yo connect the laptop to projector for a program. I rummaged thro that box of old cords and found one either the right connectors for both devices. sometimes. . .”you never know”. . . it really does come in handy.

    7. Anon for This*

      Ditto on the typewriter. We had an IBM Selectric, jealously guarded by the person who was sure we would all need it one day, and who kept the typeballs hidden, so one had to ask her permission to use it. (She was right – I was going on international travel and the foreign country required a visa application, typed on their hard copy form.) The typewriter was finally disposed of when she retired, largely because no one ever found the typeballs!

    8. TX_TRUCKER*

      We got rid of our electric typewriter about 3 years ago, when the Feds finally digitized the last annual report form we needed to submit. We used to have a big party on report day, when the typewriter came out of the closet. It was a surprising amount of fun to show it to the younger staff and then hide it away like a priceless relic.

    9. Here's a name*

      We got rid of the IBM Selectric a couple years ago over my objections. I had to refurb the manual Royal from the 1920s that I have as decor at home in order to complete the one annual grant application from the old school community foundation that only accepts typewritten on their custom hardcopy form, which I swear is xeroxed from a memeograph.

  33. The Curse of the Zoom Meetings*

    All my office supplies are bright purple — stapler, scissors, pens, you name it. I’ve never had a problem with anything going missing.

    1. lilsheba*

      you would with me I love purple (evil laugh) Lucky for you I work from home and can get all the purple stuff I want lol.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      They’re not office supplies, but for my mom’s work (she’s a general contractor, which is obviously a very male-dominated industry), she spray paints the handles on all of her tools bright pink or purple, because guys never want to steal pink/purple tools. She has never had any of her pink/purple tools walk off of any job sites.

      1. HigherEdExpat*

        My dad who at the end of his career was a maintenance man on a plant floor was tired of his (labelled) thermos going missing. He (secure in his masculinity, former registered Girl Scout, and father of two daughters) bought a bright purple thermos. 7 years post retirement he still has it.

  34. Sarge*

    File folders. Regular, 1/5 cut file folders. Boxes go missing at a time. The office manager, who I haven’t seen in months (does she still work here???), purchases nice colorful ones for herself and locks them up. The rest of us are scrounging for folders.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Oh my god yeah I swear some sort of creature must be EATING our plain manila folders, because boxes of them go missing as well!

  35. Masha*

    Do you ever find a little bag of those plastic tabs for labeling hanging folders, and just pocket it immediately because you know you’ve hit the jackpot?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh my yes. Every once in a while I have to buy more for home, because the ones I inherited from my dad 35 years ago are disintegrating. As soon as I buy new ones, I find a stash I made from previously.

    2. Where paper clips retire to*

      We have boxes of these laying in our cabinet, never to be used again since we’ve moved on to digital.

    3. SpecialSpecialist*

      YES! Especially if they still have the paper tab that actually fits in them and you don’t have to make your own. :D

  36. Amber T*

    Pre-covid, I kept track of everything on post its – my to do list, outstanding items owed to me by someone else, reminders on my monitor. Looking back it makes me anxious just thinking about it. I used to have this massive old desk – it must have been a really nice one in its prime but it was decades old, super scuffed up. My old office was the old (admittedly large) closet that they stuck this massive old desk in – I asked if I could move from an open cubicle to this windowless room and they agreed.

    Anyway, covid happened and all of a sudden I went from a too-big desk to sharing a relatively small desk with my now husband. I also didn’t take any post its with me (I remember thinking this whole WFH thing would only be a “few” weeks…). So no room or ability to use post its. I ended up transferring everything – to do list, tracker, notes, reminders – to an online platform which makes my life way easier and more organized.

    I still have a drawer full of every color and size post it note my office buys. I use maybe 2 a month.

    1. Data Nerd*

      What platform do you use? I too use post-its and have problems with them going missing.
      Also, to stay on topic, the pens (and only the pens) have been moved from the supply closet to the office manager’s space, along with the time-off forms. No reason why.

        1. Emotional Support Baby Groot*

          cosign Todoist! It has made my life so much easier and more organized. I put everything on it – work tasks and appointments, medical appointments, exercise, social stuff, reminders, etc. I created templates for multi-step tasks at work so I can check everything off and make sure nothing gets forgotten.

        1. Cat*

          Does anyone use a platform like this for things to do at home? Basically just yourself? Or is it really just for teams?

          1. Shellfish Constable*

            My husband and I use Trello. We share a “home board” and can see when the other person has checked items off a to do list or can swipe away a big task once it’s complete.

          2. Admin of Sys*

            I use it for myself, or at least I used to. I’m currently back to just writing everything down stream of consciousness, but I really liked Trello when I was using it. I had a board per room.

          3. Tinkerbell*

            I use Todoist at home. One thing I particularly like (not sure if this is on other platforms as well) is being able to schedule things based on when you last remembered to do them. If I say to remind me to change the A/C filter every month, it will remind me on the same day each month. If I say every! month, it will remind me a month *from when I actually did it,* which is a lot more helpful for things I don’t necessarily remember to do the moment they’re due :-P

          4. Betty*

            I used Trello for wedding planning. My coordinator was so impressed she actually gave a presentation about it at a professional conference (and offered me a job if I ever wanted it!)

          5. TechWorker*

            Trello both for my work todo list (just mine, no team involved) & for a house jobs todo list with my partner.

          6. rudebeckia*

            I use Asana at work and TickTick at home – I really like that TickTick shows your calendar, habits, and to-do list all in one place.

          7. Allison K*

            Big fan of Things 3 by Cultured Code – it’s not free, but it’s one payment instead of a subscription and syncs beautifully between phone and laptop.

      1. Amber T*

        I use Notion! I have a job where I am just supposed to know a bunch of history and reasons why we did something 5 years ago – I’ve found it invaluable when it comes to keeping track of things now. I use it heavily at work (with a specific business teamspace with my coworkers) and on and off for personal/home stuff (with a personal account).

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I really like todoist – the free version has almost all the features, I’ve never felt a need to move to the paid version.

    2. RedinSC*

      Ha, I’m looking at one of my monitors right now and there’s 7 post its along the bottom with information that I need occasionally, but when I need it, I “NEED” it.

      I should switch to an online tracker like that, but haven’t made that switch yet. I have blue, orange and yellow post its at the moment.

      1. Kelly White*

        My monitor is like that at work, and I can remote in and work from home, so I took a picture of the post-it notes, and made a “work” photo album in my phone.

        1. StarTrek Nutcase*

          I had a supervisor who had a “graveyard” of about 25 small post-it notes – all lined up in 4 rows in front of her keyboard & under her monitor. Several times a year when I was “in” a mood, I’d sneak in and swap some around. She’d rant but surprisingly never suspected me.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        Ha, I literally have 7 post it notes on one monitor rn! One on the other monitor.

        I recently started using Loop with a colleague for a shared space – mostly because it is free for us at work.

      3. Seamyst*

        I use OneNote and have a page for quick-reference things like our EIN, who to reach out to for XYZ, and so on. So much nicer-looking than a bunch of post-its along the bottom of my monitor!

        1. RedinSC*

          You fancy!

          But seriously, I’ve been thinking about doing that, just haven’t made that transition yet. AND our EIN is one of those number I need to remember, it takes me forever to dig it up EVERY TIME I need it.

          Perhaps I’ll make an 8th post it!

          1. Ainsley Hayes*

            You can also enter the EIN as an alternate phone number for your company in your contacts – just add a zero at the end. You will always have it with you.

    3. Artemesia*

      large post its are great for grocery lists and for organizing to do lists like for a party. I slap them on the side of the refrigerator when organizing a dinner party so I don’t forget any courses, or to obtain missing items, or to make sure I have all the dishes I need. (I’m old, I forget the fancy cheese in the refrigerator or to make sure I have enough serving dishes read to go)

  37. Lily*

    My last office it was tiny cassette tapes. The older generation of lawyers still liked to give dictation and refused to go digital. They are near impossible to buy new anymore so they would hoard them and record over their old work over and over and over until they busted.

    1. Lily C*

      One upside to the forced change to working remotely in 2020 was that our senior attorneys were finally broken of their Dictaphone addictions. I still get the occasional voice memo to transcribe, but the days of kicking that dang foot pedal out of the way when I’m in the office are long gone.

  38. HelpMeRonda*

    My dad closed his business in 2016, but he had a vintage paycheck writing machine. If you’ve never seen one, it’s like a cross between an old-timey cash register and a giant rubber stamp with a hand crank. In the last 4 years of his business, I managed his payroll and had to use this contraption to write employee and vendor checks. I made him keep it after the business closed b/c someday it’s going to sit in my house. I loved that thing and how absurd it was to still be using it in the 21st century.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I used to have a farmers market near me that included Amish vendors. I was enchanted the first time one of them took the pencil from behind his ear, wrote the price of each item I was purchasing on a brown paper back, added it up, and put the items in the bag.

      1. Funbud*

        When I was a kid In Connecticut, one of the local butchers rented space to a produce seller. The sellers were two elderly brothers who wore long white aprons and, in summer, straw boater hats! They added everything up on brown paper bags using thick black wax pencils (which used to be called “china markers”). They were a real touch of Olde New England!

    2. Elle Woods*

      I love those vintage machines. I inherited a mechanical adding machine from my grandfather. He used it when he managed a bank.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Somewhere I have my grandfather’s slide rule. (He was an engineer.) alas, I no longer remember how to use it. (There’s probably a YouTube video for it)

    3. lilsheba*

      You would be amazed at how easily you could sell something like that. There are tons of old machines and tools of all sorts that get sold on instagram lives every day. Someone would want it.

    4. zuzu*

      When the big blackout happened in 2003, I was able to get dinner after walking home to Brooklyn because the restaurant I stopped at had gas stoves and one of those old credit-card machines with the carbons. I didn’t have any cash on me and of course all the ATMs were down. There were a lot of places open and selling food cheap, but cash only.

  39. Jane Bingley*

    Oh, this is my favourite story.

    When cleaning out a printing room in 2017, I discovered a printer cartridge that expired in 1994. It had been moved in three different office moves. It was only compatible with a type of printer that had not been made in nearly thirty years and was not owned by anyone at our office. I laughed, took a photo of the expiry date, and threw it out.

    Another employee fished it out of the garbage, scolded me for being wasteful, and put it back on the shelf of printer supplies.

    1. MelMc*

      At least when I found the mimeograph machine spare parts I was allowed to throw them out. This was 25 years ago now but the building was 20 years old at the time and had never had a mimeograph machine. We suspected a certain faculty member had moved the spare parts at least twice for them to arrive in that cabinet. Luckily the faculty member had forgotten them when she moved buildings again six months earlier so they were disposed of along with an equal number of parts for old copiers and faxes.

      1. Mim*

        I graduated from college around 25 years ago, and had a music professor who would usually have handouts (sitting on a music stand, of course) for students to pick up as they walked into class. At the time I was a student, the pile of handouts was about 1/3 to 1/2 blue mimeographs, and you can bet that I would always find one of the mimeographed sheets to take. For old times’ sake.

        He must have made zillions of copies of those handouts at some point, and just had them on file somewhere to grab for his classes. Because of the subject matter, it was the kind of stuff that was never going to become outdated. Basic music theory breakdowns of a section of a Beethoven symphony, and stuff like that. And I know this makes him seem like a mothridden old fart who had tenure and was phoning it in for decades, but he wasn’t! I wasn’t a music major, and took his classes because I wanted to, and he was freaking awesome. He just loved the subject matter so much that he could stay as excited about the content of his mimeographed handouts for decades beyond when they were created.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I also graduated from college about 25 years ago and *was* a music major and wish I could remember if the wonderful professor your description brings up had had mimeographed handouts for his classes. He was amazing, thank you for bringing my memories of him flooding back. That said, it sure would be nice to know that there are two of those professors out there (or were, anyway; I believe the one I had is since retired but likely still an amazing person).

  40. The Leanansidhe*

    I’m a pen snob. I buy this particular brand every time, hoard it in my desk, and use it religiously. It’s because these pens are very thin and I like to write very small. Now it’s a running joke that people buy me pens in the office for my birthday and my anniversary at the company; my favorite so far are some my boss bought for me in Japan. So thankful to my coworkers for playing along with my pen obsession rather than just thinking I’m incredibly strange.

    1. Unobtainium Miner*

      Massive pen snob here! When I was a bank teller, any decent pens would get swiped by other tellers. I ended up switching to a fountain pen. Then when I got back into my chosen field of automotive, I switched to a purple gel pen (I worked with older men that weren’t afraid of a fountain pen, but writing in PURPLE INK?!? The horror!!!) On the plus side, it made my instructions stand out.

    2. Beancounter Eric*

      Oh, yeah…..Looking at my desk right now (I ought to be working on Property Tax Renditions, but they’ll wait until after lunch), I have the following from my personal stock:

      BiC four-color pen, orange barrel (fine point)
      Cross Multipen
      Pentel Multipen
      Skilcraft Aviator Multipen
      Rotring 600 Pen, Pencil, Multipen
      Pilot EasyTouch retractable, black ink, fine point. x2
      Uni 0.38 pens, black ink x2
      Uniball One 0.38, black ink
      Uni Jetstream, black ink, .28
      Fisher AG-7 Spacepen

      And the sad fact is I write no better with them than I do with a basic BiC Cristal. :-(

      1. The Meat Embezzler*

        A few OldJobs ago the office manager was sick of the crappy pens the company used to order and decided to upgrade to Pilot G2s. When those things arrived it was a stampede as people started hoarding them. I didn’t blame anyone, I love G2s haha.

        1. Anonopotamus*

          At a previous job, I was in charge of ordering supplies for my small department (me, three peers, and our manager). All orders placed on our supplier’s website then had to be approved by our office manager/facilities guy. We were only supposed to order plain boring shitty Bic-equivalent supplier-brand ballpoints. Whenever I needed to order a few boxes of those, I’d also add some G2s.

          I don’t know whether Facilities Guy never noticed those on the orders, or just didn’t care…he always approved my orders without question.

          My teammates (and a friend on another team) LOVED me for this. Everyone got very excited when I’d come around handing out G2s on New Pen Day. I even took special orders so everyone could have the thickness and ink color they preferred.

        2. Someguy*

          I like G2s (and positively loathe the supercheap standard pens we order) – so I would buy them myself (not worth fighting about).

          One day as I was walking around with some G2s hanging from my lanyard, one of our touch labor said half-mockingly about how nice it was that I got the good pens, and then half-wistfully that the gels were better at [legitimate business purpose] for [actual reasons].

          So I sent an email to our admin, who is both delightful and a valiant warrior in defense of corporate funds, that: because they were better at [legitimate business purpose] for [actual reasons], people in departments X, Y, and Z need these pens. Please order so many blue, black, red, and green. And so it came to pass.

          Of course such treasures cannot be left in the main supply cabinet for just anyone, they were entrusted to a junior employee in department Y, who will only give you a pen if you: are in departments X, Y, or Z; ask him; or take it when he is out of office (though please do leave a note if we are running low.)

          (Well, originally entrusted to a manager of department Z, but he quickly decided that it was too much trouble. So the torch was passed.)

    3. Panicked*

      RSVP fine point or Zebra F-301 are the only pens I will use because of the very fine point on them. Pens are SERIOUS business.

    4. Not on board*

      If you write all the time, you need to be a pen snob. My thing is how pens glide over the paper – if it’s not smooth enough I toss the pen. When you’re writing all day long, your hand gets tired if the pen isn’t smooth enough.

    5. PricklyPearOverThere*

      Huge pen snob here! I carry a pencil case full of my favorite writing implements with me in my work bag so I can use the pens and pencils I prefer during the day. The cup of writing implements on my desk is purely sacrificial. Anyone can grab from it because I don’t really care about those pens. Works like a charm!

    6. Sharpie*

      Im left-handed and have very small writing. The only pens I’ve found that work for me are Pentel BK-77 Superb. Love those things!

    7. Mack*

      If you’re ever in Brooklyn I’d recommend visiting Yoseka Stationery – they have a hundred or so pens on a long table so you can try before you buy.

  41. I believe you have my...*

    I work at a large tech company that has recently swung from decades of notoriously spoiling its employees to an Age of Austerity. It has been unpleasant overall, but the highlight was definitely when someone filed a facilities ticket to get a missing stapler replaced at the printer near their desk. They were told that staplers were being removed from printers company-wide.

    Meltdown ensued. Our company was in an absolute uproar over this for days. We build things for the internet so there was not a huge amount of use for the staplers — but when you need one you need one, and a lot of people were just pissed off on principle. A few staplers for each floor of 100s of employees seemed such an insanely petty thing to take away.

    After days of uproar, we were told that the original response was incorrect, that there was no such initiative and we would definitely have staplers at printers. (Which, a year later, has proven true… so far.) But no one knows if the response was actually incorrect or if they backed off because they didn’t want to deal with years of Milton Waddams references from their embittered employees. I assume we’ll find out when the lowly facilities person who originally responded to the ticket writes their tellall.

  42. periwinkle*

    My current team is level-headed about office supplies so I have nothing to contribute here, but…

    WE STILL NEED AN UPDATE ABOUT THE $48 OF OFFICE SUPPLIES!

    OMG, I’d forgotten how banana pants that ex-boss was.

      1. PropJoe*

        If it had been me in that scenario…

        Them: “Give us back the $48 in office supplies or we’ll call your dad and tell on you!”

        Me: “Lol good luck with that, Dad has been dead for nearly a decade.”

        If something like that had happened while he was still alive, he would’ve laughed and told them to go eff themselves. He had his flaws, no doubt, but he wasn’t afraid to tell people to eff off when it was warranted.

  43. CL*

    Intraoffice mail envelopes. There is actually a department at my employer that I think still uses them. Not sure what they did while the office was closed during the pandemic.

    1. periwinkle*

      We still use them! It’s the official way to send physical documents between offices, which we have scattered across the country.

      I recently deactivated a company-issued cell phone. The return instructions were to disconnect all accounts, do a factory reset, and then return the phone by sticking it into an intraoffice mail envelope and sending it to a designated mail code.

    2. Beancounter Eric*

      Current company uses them. We have two facilities about 10 miles apart, and there’s always some form, mail delivered at Address A which should have gone to Address B…..they get used a good bit.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Years ago, someone in another office found an insect they couldn’t identify, so they put it in one of those containers for mechanical pencil leads, added a sticky note, put everything in an interoffice envelope, and sent it to our location, where we had a colleague with a degree in entomology. He identified the insect and reported back. (This was before camera phones were common.)

      Very creative use of office supplies.

  44. MI Dawn*

    Not in that office any more, but pens. You basically had to offer your right arm to get replacement pens – the very lousy, sold-by-the-thousands-for-$1.00 – pens. I started buying my own, because I wanted something that wrote reliably. My (relatively more)expensive gel pens would vanish off my desk so I started to lock them up. People stated coming to me and complaining they didn’t have a pen and would refuse to get one of the cheap pens. I started engraving my name on the pens to keep them.

    Some of the worst offenders? The doctors in the office. They’d wander off with them and I’d never see the pen again. And they made probably 2+ what I did in salary, and were SO OFFENDED when I suggested their secretary purchase these pens for them when “there were boxes of pens in the cabinet”!

    Yeah…boxes of pens that NO ONE wanted to use…

    I was so happy to leave there with about 65% of the pens I had purchased going with me.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a doctor. Years ago I borrowed a pen from the unit clerk (so long ago that it was to write a note in a paper chart). When I returned it she looked at me in astonishment. She’d been working there for 15 years. I was the first doc to ever return a pen.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’m ridiculously attached to my Pilot G-2 pens. I mean, I have refills and spare pens in every handbag, briefcase, backpack, and room in the house. But I also have a stash of cheap pens, and that’s what someone gets if they need one. I’ve lost too many G-2s to be generous anymore.

        The sole exception was a guy who poked his head out of a conference room, and I happened to be hot-desking nearby. He was in an all-day meeting with the C-suite and his pen ran out of ink. Did I have a cheap pen that I would be okay never seeing again? I gave him a G-2, saying a day-long meeting sounded challenging enough. He might as well have a good pen.

  45. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

    Enamel pins and/or stickers of our discontinued company mascot. When we rebranded he was retired, and if you find merch that still has him you’d better hoard it.

    Similarly, one specific run of branded pens from 2021 — when we rebranded, that vendor didn’t have the same model in our new color, so we went to a different vendor next time we ordered. But nothing compares to the smooth glide, the perfect-sized rubber end stylus, or the satisfying click of the old ones. I regret every day that I didn’t swipe any from our old warehouse. There are no more to be found in any supply closets, but those of us who remember the days of the Good Pens will descend on any that turn up like vultures on a carcass. If a long-timer leaves, we’re scavenging their supplies for Good Pens.

  46. Ultegra*

    My office provides branded pens. We used to purchase them in black, blue, and red, but about 3 years ago our supplier stopped carrying the blue and red pens. They still carry the blue and red cartridges though. Instead of switching suppliers, the powers that be have told us to take a black pen, remove the black cartridge, and replace it with a blue or red cartridge to make blue or red pen. Ever since then, the old branded pens with proper colored red or blue barrels have become a status symbol. If someone accidentally leaves behind a red or blue barreled pen in an office or conference room, they will never see it again. All of this could be remedied if we switched suppliers or even pen style, but someone higher up has chosen not to.

  47. Lucia Pacciola*

    Reams of printer paper. As a monitor stand.

    I think at this point it’s been literally years since anyone actually used the printer on our floor. For anything work-related, at least.

    1. Kivrin*

      I used a hole punch in my home office two or three times a week — I’m not a fan of binders generally but it’s the only system I have found works for me for bookkeeping — for some reason keeping this year’s and last year’s bank statements and invoices in a binder keeps my head above water. I got rid of the electric one, though.

  48. uniManager*

    Chalk.

    I work at a university department in a STEM field. The absolute uproar that occurred when the high-end chalk from a specific manufacturer in Asia was no longer available to our required vendor was epic. The company that made it went bankrupt and it wasn’t available for nearly a year while another company bought it out and reconfigured manufacturing. There was mass hysteria including individuals making hoarder-level purchases of existing supply and requesting reimbursement (not allowed), near fist-fights over boxes of the stuff, and existing department supply had to be kept under lock and key lest it grow legs and walk off. Staff were reportedly brought to the point of tears over this.

    Once it was available again, our required vendor could not stock it. There were resolutions from the faculty committee to petition the vendor, complaints filed with the purchasing department, and regular demands sent for this particular brand of chalk. We still cannot purchase it legally (within policy), and staff still receive requests for boxes of it and reimbursement requests for self-purchase (still not allowed).

    There is a tiny loophole we now use to secure a small amount of the stuff through another vendor, and we can only give it out 2-3 sticks at a time and only to faculty. Supply still remains under lock and key, to be distributed by authorized personnel only.

      1. uniManager*

        Yes! That’s the one. I wasn’t in the department when this all went down, but the stories that remain (and the reasons why we are so sparing with it now) are the stuff of legend.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        It writes smooth as cream, *bright* contrast on the board, and erases completely without ghosts. I bought my own box so I never have to teach with crappy cheap sticks again.

        It makes wonderful gifts for engineers and math teachers in your life.

  49. Heather*

    The Scantron Machine. nearly everyone uses online tetsing programs or uses paper that has digital/photo grading. The Scantron company technically owns the machine so we cannot get rid of it. Interestingly, the 20 year old supply order for scantrons still gets sent out yearly even though no one is using them. I did an informal poll and the last person that used the scantron machine did it in 2019.

    1. Mergatroid*

      I came here to say the Scantron papers. There were PILES of that when I moved into my classroom. There were probably several hundred thousand of them thangs, as they were the only things in the 5 drawers of my desk. In the year of our Current Era 2022.

      They told us “don’t throw anything away. We’ll send custodial to pick things up.” Did they send custodial to pick things up. Of course not! Hahaha, what is that, logical?

      So after a few months of those sitting by the trashcan, I placed them IN the trashcan, and they went away. I haven’t heard boo about them.

    2. Knighthope*

      About 15 years ago a porch pirate in my neighborhood apparently was mightily disappointed to discover that the purloined package contained only scantron forms, which a neighbor found discarded in the alley.

  50. Law librarian*

    Several years ago I worked for a law firm where it had been decreed from upon high that we weren’t allowed to buy post-it notes because they were a waste of money. At the time, all the legal database providers gave branded post its as freebies and were happy to give me extra so I had an endless supply of them. I was extremely popular.

    1. Coffee Protein Drink*

      That was 1994 or so. I don’t know if this person took it upon themselves to do the math, but one day I came in to find a report about the expense of post-it-notes vs that of using scratch paper and paper clips.

      No more post-it notes in that office unless we brought in our own.

  51. RandomLawyer*

    The Fax Machine. The only people still using it were using it to send documents to other department WITHIN THE SAME BUILDING. They needed the fax confirmation page to “have proof they sent the document.” Even explaining to them they could scan the document and e-mail it to us, and the sent e-mail would be said proof was unavailing. It took 18 months of haggling at all levels of the organization (and honestly the intervention of quarantine leaving no one around to actually see the faxes coming in) to finally FINALLY stop the practice of faxing documents within the building.

    1. Lurker*

      This is amazing. It reminds me of when I worked for the Smithsonian and there was some department/person who would only *accept* faxes, but not send faxes. Someone else was in charge of sending. Just one example of the soul-crushing bureaucracy there.

      Maybe once a year I do use a fax machine to send something to the IRS. They don’t accept forms by email so it’s either fax or snail mail.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I just had to fax something yesterday – a prescription to a nursing facility. They don’t accept them by Email and are not on the electronic prescribing system. This is why we still have prescription pads and a fax machine. I had a fax machine for years so I could do this from home when I was on call. Got rid of it the day I signed off call for the last time.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Fax is more secure than email. That’s why it’s used for medical or financial documents that aren’t sent through post or a secure portal.

    2. Tio*

      When I worked in logistics, we had a trucker that said he needed the fax number to send over something for a job. I told him we didn’t have one. He hemmed and hawed, what ever shall I do? I informed him that in these incredibly advanced times (2016) we have something called scanning and emailing. He claimed HE didn’t have a scanner so he couldn’t. I told him “well, I know you have a truck, so I guess you’ll have to drive it over.”

      Weirdly, he managed to locate a scanner and send the email. (Fun side note: We had a combo fax machine/printer, but the fax function was unreliable and I didn’t know the number, and also it was 2016, so I just lied.)

    3. Industry Behemoth*

      In the early 1990s I temped for a hospital, and doctors were starting to get fax machines which were the greatest thing since sliced bread. The biggest plus for them was lab results.

      In a different vein, an admin at a past employer had to deal with a professional who kept saying they hadn’t received something the admin sent them through interoffice mail. The admin resorted to sending everything to this person by way of our copy center, because the copy center’s delivery would include a printed confirmation.

      I also heard long ago about a company whose interoffice mail was so bad, people were FedEx-ing internal memos.

  52. Q*

    Pens, notepads, Clorox wipes. The wipes thing was so bad that in about 2009, NOT 2020 (when it might have made more sense), one of the admins and I were distributing the latest case of Clorox…One person started a bet about how long they’d last and someone announced rather loudly “We all know who’s stealing them. I’m watching you.”

  53. anon for this*

    We had this stapler that my boss was weirdly possessive of. If you temporarily brought it to your desk, for example, he would angrily say that the stapler was for everyone to use, so it must be kept in its assigned spot (even while being used).

    So we played a trick on him. We had the machine shop guys punch a hole in a new, identical identical stapler and chained it to the table with a lock. We hid the original stapler in one of boss’s desk drawers. Long story short he was very angry (he had pretty bad anger management issues), borrowed bolt cutters to cut the chain off, did not get the point of the joke, didn’t seem to register that there were now two staplers, and wanted to know who was involved.

  54. They Call Me Patricia*

    We had a two-hole punch that sat by the copier for 16 years. It was labeled “Susan’s” so nobody was allowed to use it or take it. Our office had no employee named Susan. Nobody who worked there could even remember a past employee named Susan. When the company was bought out and we moved, there was debate over what to do with Susan’s hole punch. There was no Susan!

    1. Not Your Mother*

      In case Alison sees this and decides to use it, may I suggest as its title: “A hole punch named Sue.”

    2. PanhandleQueen*

      When I sat close to the copier, back in the dark ages, I had a note on my two-hole punch that said “Removal of this hole punch from Debbie’s desk will result in grievous bodily harm.” Also, in the 1980s, the new job I went to did not use 2-hole punches for files. They used those brass doodads which you spread the legs of to secure the papers. My attorney boss was thrilled to learn (a) 2-hole punch machines existed, and (b) there were specific fasteners to secure the hole-punched documents. When I moved away, he told me that the thing he would remember most gratefully about me was that I introduced him to the two-hole punch.

  55. Heather*

    Found a 20+ year old book scanner with av cables and a spiral bound book for directions. It had been marked, “Old Scanner” and was up on a high cabinet shelf.

  56. And another thing*

    Scissors: our supervisor got the whole team really nice kitchen shears to take home in December, in the hopes that maybe the scissors would stop going missing in the communal areas! (To be honest I think the scissors are just not being put back, not taken home)

  57. Forty Feet*

    My office has been working on digitizing all of our processes that used to require printing out dozens of pages of data. For large packets of data, we used to either three-hole-punch them to put them in binders or use the heavy duty stapler to bind them. Even though we’re almost done transitioning to digital documentation, we still have the giant three-hole punches and the heavy duty staplers. The kicker is that both of our communal heavy duty staplers are broken, yet there are those who REFUSE to throw them out because “we may need them!”. At this point we’re waiting for the holdouts to retire so we can dispose of the broken staplers in peace.

  58. sara*

    Nothing now but I worked for years at a non-profit though where you had to give an accounting code to the admin for even a pen or pencil, and also get judged for having the audacity to have used up the pen you got two years ago… Heaven forbid you ask for several pens for your team at the same time or something. And the drama to get new whiteboard markers? Goodness… Also to note, this was a messy/dirty job where we had to also fill out a lot of daily or hourly paper records on clipboards.

    My boss asked me one time to go grab a box of pens (like the cheapo ones) from them, and when I came back with 6 pens (because there’s 6 full-time people on my team, why would I possibly need more pens than that?), we ended up just ordering our own supplies until the person down there retired…

    Now I work at a 99% paperless tech company and there’s just a giant cabinet filled with coloured pens, markers, post-its, notebooks, etc. It took me a couple years to realize that I didn’t have to ask anyone, or log my GL code to sign things out. And as someone who really needs to draw logic out on paper sometimes, I love it so much.

  59. SbuxAddict*

    Adding machine/Calculator paper tape and certain paperclips are our big hoarded items

    The bookkeepers hoard the calculator tape and the payroll department will often raid their supply because the main office supply closet is always empty. You can tell when this is about to happen because a payroll person will dawdle until all the bookkeepers have left then go raid the bottom drawers in the bookkeepers’ desks. This leads to many emails admonishing people store only ONE EXTRA ROLL in their office. Always in caps and with an attitude.

    The bookkeeping department only likes small paperclips with the little bumps on them. No one else cares. One of the local tellers is a family member of one of the admins and she will send us tons of the paperclips the bank collects when people drop off their deposits in the overnight slots. The bank would otherwise throw them out so every three months or so, we get a about 1500 free paperclips of all shapes and sizes. When the box arrives, the bookkeepers go through it and take all the bumpy small paperclips. If I get work from them with a paperclip, it will often include a note saying, “Please return this clip with the papers.”

    They don’t like it, btw, when you return the papers and clip with a note saying, “Here is your precious” with a photo of Golum. I learned that the hard way.

  60. Sharkie*

    I worked for an company that kept all the digital copies of their projects on the giant floppy discs from the 80’s . This was in 2018. When I was hired I got a new computer set up, and they had to custom order a large floppy disk reader so I can access the files I needed. Yes it was super expensive. No my boss didnt want to upload copies to the server because that was to “dangerous” and digital copies can get deleted. When I explained that it since these discs are so old they might start breaking down soon by Boss was baffled, since he bought all of the discs in 1985 and the unused ones look brand new, just a bit faded.

    We also didn’t get wifi until the CEO visited our office and he had to plug in his computer to get internet.

  61. Scott*

    I’m gonna go with the FAX machine in my office. It was useful a decade or so ago to handle things that contained somewhat sensitive information (think proprietary) but we have had computer systems available for this information for at least that long. I will admit that I have used it several times in the last few years. Why? you may ask. There is a local deli in the District with great sandwiches that does not have online ordering but for large orders you can FAX a form. I’ve ordered upwards of two dozen sandwiches for training events from them.
    It was fun showing some young colleagues how to use the machine as most had never seen one.

  62. Clippy*

    I just had my 10-year work anniversary in the accounting department in local government and the entire time I’ve been here we’ve NEVER had to order paper clips. I don’t know what the prior employee I replaced was doing but we have moved twice in ten years, are preparing for another move in a few months and I am still finding unopened boxes of paper clips.

  63. Inbetweener*

    I work for a government funded non-profit organization, so we have a very strict budget we have to adhere to for office supplies. This makes a lot of our supplies hot commodities, but especially binders. We provide binders for our learners to keep handouts and important paperwork in, that they then get to keep after they are finished with our services. Since we offer a variety of on-going services, we don’t have the budget to provide binders to every learner that comes through our door. This has led to our director deciding that only one of our programs gets priority on binders since it runs the longest and provides the most paperwork. I happen to be the instructor for this particular program, meaning I get weekly visits from co-workers wanting binders for their learners. I have had people try to bribe me with coffee, treats and gift cards in order to get some of my binders! It’s all so funny to me, and in reality, we could just order less pencils (we have boxes and boxes of pencils) and use that money to buy more binders.

  64. Three Flowers*

    Old-school wood pencils. My former boss provided me with an array of nice branded office supplies when I started four years ago…but I don’t think there’s a pencil sharpener in the building. They are desk decor.

    Also, when a former colleague involuntarily departed and refused to clean out his desk, we eventually had to do it for him because we needed the office. We found so. many. file folders. Most had exactly one document in them, weren’t labeled, and were stacked in drawers rather than hanging in those file-hanging folders. It was the detritus of a totally non-functional compulsion. (On the plus side, we are no longer constantly out of file folders.)

  65. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

    There was a short period of time in my department where our VP decided that it was too dangerous to have sharp scissors. All pointed scissors were confiscated and replaced with blunt-nosed (like they use in kindergarten classes). People literally hid their pointed scissors in their offices until the whole thing blew over.

  66. Cupcake*

    Engineers and their favorite mechanical pencils and calculators. I worked as admin to a team of engineers and the specific preferences of each one made me laugh. The head/director liked one pencil that was not always easy to order, so I kept a spare in my desk, hidden, so he would have a secret spare.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Serious crossword solvers are also very specific about pencils. VERY specific. There are arguments.

      1. periwinkle*

        Logic puzzle enthusiasts, too. I carefully hoard my supply of Ticonderoga #1 wood pencils.

      2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Crosswords should be done in Bic. I will not be entertaining other arguments.

          1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

            I’m agnostic on color. I prefer black but I’ll use blue or green or whatever. Gotta be Bic though.

  67. GelieFish*

    at my previous job (local government) I was responsible for ordering. I was informed of the specific requirements for pens. The had to be clickable (police don’t do lids), see through (council members wanted to be able to see how much ink was left) and blue (back in the day when that told you it was an original signature)

  68. juliebulie*

    We had a lot of office supplies from prehistoric times. Like even the 1960s. Colored pencils (no longer used, bearing imprints of pencil manufacturers that no longer exist), transparencies for a projector (no projector in house), telephone accessories such as that thing you use to perch the receiver on your shoulder, no longer needed as we have soft phones. Tracing paper, sticky spray for paste-ups which we haven’t done since the early 90s.

    I feel like I’m forgetting something. Just look into any supply cabinet from the 20th century and you’ll see what I mean.

    1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I actually need one of those shoulder things now. The place I work now had to run a new land line in so I could answer the phone at my desk, and unearthed this incredible artifact from the mid-90’s from storage. I also have to write messages on actual paper message slips, so I need to do the shoulder/neck thing with the handset.

  69. CzechMate*

    Blue gel pens. For anyone who works in an office where you frequently have to physically sign official documents, the blue gel pens are worth their weight in gold. Can you sign just as easily with a cheap Bic blue pen? Of course. Do you want to? Absolutely not. They don’t glide across the signature line nearly as smoothly. They don’t feel nearly as comfortable in my grubby little bureaucratic hands.

    My work frequently entails sitting with people as they sign official documents, and the complete rage I’ve seen when an unwitting client accidentally (or purposefully?) leaves with a blue gel pen is wild. The front desk has a jar with a big, all-caps sign telling people to RETURN PENS HERE. If that doesn’t work, the front desk admin will pointedly tell people, “It looks like you forgot to return your pen!!” But that’s only as a last resort–really, the nice blue gel pens have historically been kept in a secret panel by a fireplace (it’s a refurbed Victorian building) out of reach of clients, with cheap, plastic, unworthy Bic pens are typically left out for members of the public.

  70. Madame Señora*

    I refuse to get rid of the overhead projector in my classroom. 99.9% of the time, it’s a plant stand. But every once in a while, maybe once a semester, I pull it out and use it to teach a lesson. The students actually pay way closer attention than usual just because of the novelty of this retrograde technology. I have a huge hoard of acetates so I’ll probably not run out of them before I retire.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My 8th grade math teacher had an endless roll of acetate attached to her overhead projector. Probably 100 feet long. That was the only thing she used. She always had a damp cloth so she could crank to the next spot and clean off anything old there. And then she could crank back if somebody had a question and show the stuff she wrote at the beginning of the class.

      1. Silver Robin*

        honestly, I love those projectors. Had them in middle school and then in high school we started using smart boards. The overhead projectors were better, though I admit the early days of adoptions are not the smoothest so smartboards are likely much better now. But the risk of using a whiteboard marker on a hugely expensive piece of equipment just did not exist with the projectors! :P

    2. Odonata*

      I think we have three working projectors in our building, guarded zealously by our head librarian – because when you need them, there’s no substitute. Tracing an outline of an image onto a wall for a mural? Or as you say, capturing the attention of some restless 17 year olds?

      My favourite use is for a set of glass slides, dating from the 40’s? which were used by the American military as a colourblindness test. They’ve got a couple of cracks, and I’m not confident that the colours are still true… but I haul them out every year, and will until I retire or die in the traces.

  71. Pretty as a Princess*

    We have a freebie book shelf tucked into a corner in a common area. It’s where people can clean out books from their offices (like when they move space or retire, because no one here ever just proactively gets rid of books). I periodically walk by and just take one of the books and throw it in the kitchen trash, because no one is actually going to take home the HTML for Dummies book that was on the shelf for a month.

    We are a place that does computering things. So all the books are old books about various aspects of computerings. One month I found a book about menopause on the shelf.

  72. ConstantlyComic*

    I’ll admit to being a culprit here, as I have been waging passive-aggressive warfare for about a year over one color of paper while we were adjusting the procedures for one particular report that we had to complete daily and submit to another department. For a while the report used several identical forms, so it made sense to color-code the most important one. We had a peach-colored paper that fit the purpose nicely, but that I was never particularly fond of (we had to photocopy filled-out forms, and photocopying colored paper onto white paper always looks hideous, in my opinion).

    A while later, we received clarification from the other department that they only needed the most important copy of that particular form and we could stop sending the other ones. Great! That eliminates the need for color-coding, right? Well, I said something to that effect and one coworker looked at me like I’d suggested leaving all the windows open in a hurricane.

    Apparently in her mind the ugly peach paper that we’d only been using for a short time was now absolutely vital to this report. How else, she reasoned, would the other department know which form was the important one (besides being the only copy of that form and stapled to the front of the report)? How would they know the report had come from us (besides having our branch’s name on it in big letters)? Any suggestion I made for saving ink and having better-looking reports was immediately shot down, even when we got a new printer that didn’t preserve the color on the copies anyway.

    I am not proud of this, but I did eventually end up going to my supervisor and presenting my argument for why it didn’t make sense to keep using the peach paper. He agreed and announced at an all-staff meeting that once we finished the current supply of peach forms, we would go back to printing that form on normal paper. Unfortunately, my coworker, despite being present at that meeting, seems to have expunged this from her mind, as I made a passing mention of going back to regular-colored forms and she said “What? When did we agree to do that?” So alas, the saga of the peach forms is still ongoing.

  73. K.l.*

    Compressed air to clean out keyboards; one of the admins kept a can “hidden” on her desk so that you’d have to ask her for it. She once asked me what I needed it for, and when I told her it was to clean out the new hire keyboards, she gave me the can, but only after saying “ok… some people like to huff this stuff so need to be careful”

    1. Broken Lawn Chair*

      IME that’s not where it goes. It’s just fun to use, and if something is very dirty it can take half a can, so the stuff just doesn’t last that long.

      1. Blarg*

        I watched a guy huffing a can of duster in the alley behind the Office Depot that used to be on Colfax in central Denver once. Then he got on his bike and rode away. A really indelible memory.

      2. JustaTech*

        I have a friend who got a nasty cold burn from a lab-mate who thought it would be funny to use a can of compressed air to freeze the tag on her shirt.
        He was not allowed to use the compressed air again.

  74. Gila Monster*

    My workplace insists on ordering regular and legal-sized printer paper at a 1:1 ratio. Except nobody uses legal paper, and yet they won’t order more paper until most of the paper is gone. This leads to a) hoarding of regular sized paper, and b) people trying to find more places to tuck away legal sized paper so that The Powers That Be will see that we’re low and order more.

  75. Cupcake*

    BATTERIES! I have worked in two separate offices where they keep batteries under lock and key! The staff generally need batteries for keyboards, mice, remote controls, etc. In both workplaces there were power tripping office managers that insisted if the batteries were just available in the cabinet, the staff just walk off with them. I suspect that some people bought their own batteries rather than deal with the Battery Key Masters!

    1. Lurker*

      I kind of get this. Batteries are expensive and probably get stolen a lot for personal devices (remotes, toys, etc).

    2. Beancounter Eric*

      Yep. Rodent uses AA, keyboard AAA. I brought in a pack of each from home.

      Easier than tracking down IT or whomever has the company supply,

    3. Not a Penguin*

      We are not allowed to keep batteries at the workplace! They might start a fire, I guess? But if you are found with batteries in your locker, you might lose access to have a locker.

      This is a normal office job with hot desking, so no permanent assignments to desks.

      The admins don’t have them either.

    4. Susie Occasionally Fun*

      When I first started at one of my jobs, all of the computer mice went through batteries like crazy. No one could figure it out. We were all asked to make sure our mice were switched off at night and over weekends. Our admin ordered us new mice. They still ate through batteries at the rate of new batteries every 7–10 days. If it had been one or two mice, it would have just been bad equipment. But this seemed to affect everyone. Nothing helped until we moved to rechargeable mice. That solved the issue, but we never did figure out what caused it.

  76. the Viking Diva*

    The previous directors were scroungers and savers, and we have done multiple rounds of purging. That said, there are a few things I too can’t bear to toss out, such as a mighty three-hole punch, a beautiful old postage scale, and the set of rubber stamps once used in sorting the mail, which just make me giggle when I find them again. And I will defend the binful of cables as long as I can triumphantly pull out the very one that is needed to suck data from one elderly device to another!

  77. azvlr*

    As an E-4 (enlisted/peon) in the US Navy, the department heads (officers) would come to the admin office for the morning meeting with the Command Officer. A couple of them would always make themselves at home at my desk before the meeting if I was not sitting there when they arrived. They would use the phone, doodle all over my desk calendar, and often “borrow” my pen (which they never returned after the meeting.
    In the military, various colored in is reserved for the different signatures in the approval chain: blue for the department head, green for the XO and red for the CO’s signature. I removed the ink tube from a red pen and added a black one instead. I may have also sabotaged my desk in other ways to keep it from being taken over. I kept the same pen for many months and enjoyed a nice clean desk calendar where I could easily read my schedule.

    1. Scott*

      This brings back memories of many documents I submitted up the C of C that came back with a lot of colored (usually green) ink. I always included the previous version with the edits along with the revised version so I could show the XO something was changed because he directed it. This was especially helpful when he wanted to change something to the wording I had originally used.

  78. Snow Globe*

    After college, I started work with a large company. One of my jobs: monthly there was an executive committee meeting , and I had to make copies and collate a package full of reports. Then I put each package in a 4-inch 3-ring binder, stacked the binders on a cart and delivered them throughout the building to all the managers.

    Over the years, I stayed with the company, but moved around to many different departments. The department I started with was eventually cut, and other groups moved in and out of that location. About 25 years later I ended up back in the same place, different department. When I went to look for something in the supply room, I found about twenty empty binders, the same ones that had been in use many years ago (and probably hadn’t been touched in a decade). Also, several stacks of 3-hole copy paper.

  79. MelMc*

    I’ll confess to a box of carbon paper at the back of my desk. It’s used less often than once a year but I’ve never found a good work-around when it’s needed.

  80. PandaQueue*

    I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet, but dry erase markers are literally like endangered animals at my office. Almost every room has a whiteboard, but none of the rooms have dry erase markers that stay in the room. Now every person has to carry their own set of markers and eraser(!) to each room they have a meeting in. And we’re in IT. We’re constantly whiteboarding ideas. I’ve taken a sharpie and labelled my dry erase marker set because they kept disappearing.

    1. bamcheeks*

      and omg will you be in trouble if you use a flipchart marker instead! I have done that twice and had to go to Facilities to explain and apologise.

      1. Midwest Manager*

        Rubbing alcohol will get the sharpie off the whiteboard! (don’t ask how I know this…)

      2. just a random teacher*

        You can get Wrong Markers off of a whiteboard the following ways:

        + Most kinds (including permanent markers), you can color over with a whiteboard marker and then erase
        + Crayola washable markers: the above trick won’t work, but washing with water will

        (I learned that second one during a year when a poorly-supervised after school program used my classroom. They broke or damaged so much of my stuff, and never seemed to understand why I was upset about it or that perhaps they needed to treat the space differently and/or buy their own supplies. The marker thing was actually really useful knowledge once I figured it out since it let me have semi-permanent lines and labels on my board that would wash off when I wanted to change things up.)

    2. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Basically this, but at my home and WFH office. We have steel doors so magnetic whiteboards and dry erase magnets are plastered all over them, along with my office whiteboard and glass dry erase board. It’s taken me literally months to find the perfect set of whiteboard markers that are properly vibrant/opaque and have a fine tip. But one day I forgot to hide them when my niece and nephew came over to visit and one thing they love to do is draw all over the blank whiteboards. Kids are, let’s say not gentle, on dry erase markers. And they use them like crayons. When they left, the fine tips were all smashed in well enough they were no longer usable.

      I now have a decoy set of dollar store dry erase markers set out within reach for them to destroy to their hearts’ content while my perfect markers are safely stowed in the office.

      Swap out kids for coworkers and dry erase markers for highlighters and that’s how it went down when I used to work onsite and why I have a bucket of highlighters with my name labeled on each one.

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Dry erase markers were hard currency during law school, especially during midterms/finals. A fresh set of EXPOs could get you into any study group, because otherwise you’d have to organize a marker-boosting caper to one of the other study rooms trying to find a functional felt tip when no one was looking.

    4. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      As a department admin, I kept an IKEA blue bag full of meeting supplies (particularly including a full set of whiteboard markers) under my desk, for the use of the department so if they landed in a meeting room in hostile territory they would have the right stuff. With a list of the intended contents on the wiki so I could restock it as needed.

      As Facilities at another place, I would load-balance the whiteboard markers between conference rooms, so every room had at least one black marker and at least two markers of other colors. I tried for black, warm color, and cool color, and tested them for function weekly.

  81. SpaceySteph*

    Our floor had ONE laminating machine. We didn’t need to laminate very much, but there were times.

    An admin designated herself keeper of the laminating machine. She kept the machine on her desk and all the lamination pages under lock and key in her desk drawer so you had to ask her for a lamination sheet (the plastic sleeve that the machine melts to your paper in order to laminate), and if she was out of the office, no lamination could be done until she returned. The detail required to justify her bestowing you a lamination sheet was also extensive.

  82. FG*

    Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I was the admin for a small academic department. My pens kept disappearing. People – faculty, grad students, undergrads – would pick up my pen, presumably to use on the spot, and just not return it.

    So, one day I made a label for the barrel of the pen out of a trimmed yellow post-it & laminated it to the pen with scotch tape. It had a drawing of a skull & said, “FG’s Death Pen – Do Not Use.” I never had any pen loss after that.

  83. DMLOKC*

    We had a receptionist who did a great job of controlling all office supplies. She kept the bare minimum of the all supplies — the least expensive available — and saved a lot of money. It was a challenge to get a pen, or a good mechanical pencil. HR had a staff meeting and asked what the team’s biggest frustrations were. Most people said the lack of office supplies. HR told the receptionist to immediately fill all the supply drawers and cabinets with quality pens, pencils, whatever the team wanted. You couldn’t get the drawers open they were so full. HR thought it was a small price to pay to make everyone happy and more engaged. It worked.

  84. Riggs*

    Electronics equipment – That monitor is too dim and has been on that shelf for five years, and those cables are old enough that they don’t connect to anything anymore, but we can’t throw them away because we might need them!! (I’ll admit I’m somewhat guilty of this myself too…)

  85. SunriseRuby*

    Hey, OP of the letter from January 2023, “My ex-boss threatened to contact my husband, his coworkers, and my father-in-law if I don’t return $48 of office supplies”, are you out there? Because of the subject of this discussion, there was a link to your letter. So much fun to re-read! If you’re reading this, could you share some updates about following up with your old company about this, and about your bananacrackers ex-boss?

  86. Midwest Manager*

    We have about 30 of those long wooden boards with tabs for each letter of the alphabet to assist when sorting a large quantity of papers into A-Z order. We have digitized 95% of our work, and no longer manually alphabetize anything – haven’t for nearly a decade. I have tried to throw them out multiple times over the years and yet they keep reappearing in the supply closet.

    I’ve decided they’re cursed and cannot be removed from their current location. Maybe it’s time to call in a supernatural specialist…

    1. Dancing Otter*

      They used to make something similar to sort by dates, or maybe the same ones with numeric markings in addition to the letters. AP departments frequently used them to organize invoices by due date.

      Having facilitated on numerous system upgrades, I promise every accounting system from QuickBooks on up will track invoice dates, either by storing vendor terms or by entry from each invoice. And probably run lovely reports of cash flow projections, to boot.

      And yet, some pathetic accounting clerk somewhere has a metaphoric death-grip on that sorter “just in case the system fails.” How they think sorting invoices manually will enable them to make payments if the entire accounting system is down, I don’t know. Maybe make the CFO hand-sign checks they’ve typed by hand?

  87. Morbid Maddie*

    This is possibly gross and slightly too far off topic, but….

    My dad was a funeral director, and I spent a lot of my childhood hanging around the small funeral home where he worked. In the office! In the break room! Occasionally in the overflow seating area! But nowhere with bodies! For the record. The first time I saw a staple remover was in my dad’s office, and I did not know what it was at all. When he noticed me staring fixedly at it, he scooped it into a drawer. Now I assume he didn’t want six-year-old me to hurt myself with it. At the time, I assumed staple removers must be inappropriate for kids because they have to do with dead bodies.

    After some consideration, I concluded it was for embalming eyeballs and called, obviously, an eyeball embalmer. Somehow I just never revisited this designation or noticed my teachers using one or whatever.

    Ten years later I had a summer job filing in a law office. I was handed a staple remover, yelped, and threw it against a wall. I asked why they had one. They asked what I was talking about. There was uproarious laughter. I’m still embarrassed, and the office staff there, lo these many years later, still call them eyeball embalmers.

    1. Silver Robin*

      I *love* stories like this. Low stakes childhood assumptions that never have the opportunity to be questioned till you are way too old not to know better are a true delight.

      Had a friend in college who told us how she thought pickles grew in swamps. No idea where she got that idea and she was not disabused of that notion till a friend of hers in high school mentioned going to a swamp during a trip. The conversation apparently went something like:
      “Going to [region] over break! They have a swamp.”
      “Oh,” my friend asks, “will you get any pickles?”
      “No…? Why?”
      “Well, pickles grow in swamps so I thought you might go pick some.”
      “….”
      “…do pickles *not* grow in swamps?”
      [uproarious laughter]

      1. Docently Well-Informed*

        Um, actually we have something called “pickle weed”–and it’s edible– that does grow in saltwater wetlands around here… (but definitely not to Vlasic size!)

  88. Blarg*

    I worked at an office supply big box store in the late 90s. Our coveted item:

    The laminator. Only the people deemed worthy by the copy center crew were allowed to touch it. I adored that thing. Big outside jobs: I was on it. Any piece of paper I deemed worthy? Also laminated. Those were the days.

    Also, the shrink wrap heat gun which was really just a hair dryer kinda thing. I also loved to shrink wrap stuff that was opened.

    These may have just been my things. Maybe I was weird. I did love that job. Miss you, chain store that was subsumed by another, similarly named chain store chain!

    1. SpaceySteph*

      They make shrink wrap you can use with a regular hair dryer too. My mom was a very active volunteer of a nonprofit and a few times we were tasked with making gift baskets for fundraisers. Blasting those with a hair dryer was a good time!

    2. Midwest Manager*

      When I worked in a big box copy center, I always volunteered for the shrink wrapping part of the job. SO SATISFYING! I *may* have purposely wrecked a wrapping or two just to do it again….

  89. Jennifer C.*

    I was working for a government agency, and we weren’t allowed to accept gifts from vendors. The agency ordered a bunch of computers and received a travel mug with the Dell logo on it as part of the shipment.

    Everyone was too scared of the ethics rules to do anything with the travel mug. It sat on top of a file cabinet for months and months, untouched. When I asked about it, I was sternly told to leave it alone.

    I finally just took it when no one was looking and brought it home.

  90. LadyAmalthea*

    There is a 1989-1993 vintage floppy disk in one of the office stationary cabinets. Because I work in a government office and there are strict rules around archives, we can’t really through it away. I take it out when I’m training someone under the age of 40 on our mostly DOS based financial management system so that they know exactly why the save button looks the way it does.

    1. Relic*

      That’s so cool that you 3D printed the save icon!

      But how did you print the folder icon? I have never seen a paper 3D printer before? Wow, you should patent that!

  91. Cactus_Song*

    I had a former colleague who had an absolute meltdown when the admin team suggested getting rid of our old shredder since we had a weekly shredding pick up service. I don’t know if she just loved the satisfaction of shredding documents in the old shredder or didn’t trust the pick-up service, but she threw such a fit that we kept the old shredder until she eventually left. Of course, she never volunteered to help clean/empty out the old shredder – the admin team had to continue doing that. She was in her 20s, not in the compliance department, didn’t work with any hugely confidential documents. She was just an associate who loved any excuse to use that old shredder.

  92. Annony*

    Colored sticky notes. My organization decided that we were no longer allowed to order any sticky notes except the yellow ones. If you tried, you were redirected to the yellow ones. People went insane and worked very hard to find work arounds. Someone managed to find colored sticky notes on amazon that were not blocked and there was a rush to stock up before the organization figured it out and blocked those too.

  93. Jen*

    I’m a teacher who (in 2023) moved into a new classroom. The retired teacher was a little bit of an educational materials hoarder, and was tasked by the principal to dumpster things. She did a pretty good job: my cupboards were basically empty, the bookshelves only held paperbacks the kids might actually want to read. EXCEPT, she could not be persuaded to throw away the VHS tapes she showed as part of her curriculum. People actually talked to her about it. I’ve inherited VHS tapes, but no VHS machine, obviously. Did she imagine that I would run out and buy a VHS player to hook to my smart board? To watch episodes of National Geographic that I can stream from my laptop?

  94. Nay*

    In my office it is binder clips! The admin assistant who orders supplies has been told not to order anymore because apparently we were spending A LOT of money on them, but she still has people ask her for them all the time! We don’t use a lot of paper around here, but, they do make nice chip clips…

    1. Elly*

      they are also great for hanging seasonal banners or lights onto cubes without doing damage. And the super large ones be used to hang your headphones on!

  95. OlympiasEpiriot*

    This is the inverse.

    I moved firms during the lockdown. I went from a very old school office that definitely was current on its computers, but, not entirely on its filing methods. Still had a reference library, for example.

    New place had 2 years before gone through a wholesale transfer to electronic-based everything, open office, hot-desking plan with laptops only. I still take notes in a bound book and like to do thinking sketches on paper with a pencil. It is a very different thing than doing it on a screen for me. A few days in to my tenure here, I needed to sharpen a colored pencil. I wandered the office (I was working on site, much easier for me) looking for a sharpener. I found 1 on the entire floor. The floor covers an entire city block.

  96. bamcheeks*

    I actually need Compliments slips in my current role (sending out hard-copy marketing materials), and we cannot work out whether they still exist and who in the organisation would know! I had to explain what they were to my twentysomething assistant. They used to be in every office in an organisation, alongside the window envelopes, non-window envelopes and memo pads!

  97. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    I haven’t been here long enough to know if it’s completely cultural, but apparently this office simply doesn’t buy certain types of supplies—like pens. So I predict that I personally am going to become a pen stealer and hoarder. (Yes, this is ridiculous. There should be a couple of boxes of basic Bic pens next to the file folders and reams of paper and I have no idea why they’re such cheapskates about this.)

  98. Stapler Lady*

    This is the story about how two grown adults got very intense about staplers.

    We had no stapler in the office and this was inconvenient. One of the bosses popped out and came back with two different staplers, and placed them on my desk and the desk of the guy opposite as we were pretty central in the office. Little did he know, but he had just started what we called “Stapler Wars”.

    Every time that people wanted to staple something, we would compete for their business, loudly and enthusiastically pitching the virtues of our particular stapler. We spent quite a lot of time in between playfully arguing about which stapler was better or gloating about recent wins. The poor people who just wanted their paper stapled were frequently baffled and faintly stressed out by this but we had a lot of fun.

    Frankly this was not the only harmless antics we got up to in this office (my favourite mug died in a game of office cricket, played using keyboards for the bat). We had a lot of fun but unfortunately between getting promoted into more senior roles and working from home our work lives are now significantly duller, but we still like to talk about the good old days when we were young and silly.

    1. Stapler Lady*

      I should also note that I still have my stapler which is genuinely a really good stapler (and obviously better than its rival!)

  99. Unlocked memory!*

    I worked at a traditionally underfunded university, although by the time I arrived it was in slightly better shape. I had two colleagues, though, who Never Forgot the dark times and hoarded boxes of paper. They had a shared office and had shoved the boxes of paper under and around their desks, like some weird letter paper fort. Over time, our boss convinced them to liberate a box of paper now and then and integrate it into the general office supply. (It’s worth noting in my decade plus, we never had a request for more paper declined.) It took about 7 years, but by the time the second one retired, all the boxes were gone. I did a final sweep of the office space to make sure the space was ready to be turned over to someone else, and noted that the office door actually didn’t swing all the way open. What could be behind it?

    Reader, I discovered a 5 foot stack of unboxed, sheets of paper.

  100. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’ve previously written about an old coworker, Nancy, who worked two jobs (one at our organization and one at a grocery store) during the workweek. She’d tell us she was “working from home,” but when I went to buy groceries on my day off, I saw her at the cash register. She refused to acknowledge me or make any eye contact. (This was in 2002 when work from home wasn’t a thing.)

    Nancy loved to buy office supplies. She was one of the coveted few who had their own Staples credit card. She’d come back with rollaway briefcases, high end organizers, monitor stands, calligraphy pens (that no one would ever use), leather shoulder/phone cradle, a fancy office chair, etc. And every time, our CEO would make Nancy return more than half of what she bought. (Nancy’s direct supervisor was two seconds away from retirement so he let her do whatever she wanted.) The irony is we already had a supplier for mass items that every department needed like office chairs, manila file folders, pens, paper, paperclips, etc. The Staples credit card was for last minute things we didn’t have in the supply closet OR a very specific, unique thing that we couldn’t wait on ordering.

    Yet…no one told Nancy to stop pulling that crap. It was like Groundhog Day EVERY TIME.

  101. Ann O'Nemity*

    Nice pens. Every office I’ve ever worked in stocked cheap ass pens, so nice ones get hoarded. I’ve never understood why employers don’t provide better pens – it seems like a pretty inexpensive way to bring employees joy.

    Batteries. My last employer stopped putting them in the supply closet because every box of batteries would disappear the same day they were restocked. Maybe employees wanted to keep extras in their desk, but I suspect people were taking them home.

  102. irritable vowel*

    I’m so thankful that I no longer work in a library full of people who save Everything because You Never Know. Even their used yogurt cups, because you can use them for distributing swag at events where yes, everyone at the fancy univer$ity will no doubt be impressed by getting a sticker from an old Chobani cup.

  103. Not Your Nacho*

    My office still uses a typewriter. Its huge, monstrous and sadly still used daily (often) to type dates on awards and other important documents. If someone would just buy us printers that we could fit the odd size paper in, I could date things electronically. But that would make sense.

    Instead, I have a stockpile of typewriter ribbons and correction tape in case they can’t be bought again. Yes, I work for a large government agency.

  104. Mergatroid*

    I know this is probably not surprising working in a public school, but we can ONLY take cash. No digital payments, no checks, no credit cards. Young folx don’t have cash like that. They have Cashapp. Parents barely have cash like that. Parents want to pay for more expensive fieldtrips with a check, as is relatively reasonable, but we can only collect that payment in cash, even if it’s several hundred dollars.

    We have lost so much money for our program because people want to come support, but they don’t have the cash. We either have to turn them away or just let them in. When I created my own digital payment method (they would epay me personally and I would get cash later), it showed that we would have lost out on over $500 in one weekend due to not being able to accommodate non-cash payments. My method is outside of the policy and I’m sure they would tell me the stop (heheh, forgiveness/permission), and I understand that dishonest people could abuse this ‘power’, but that $500 really did give us some breathing room and allowed us to pour back into our kids and program.

    1. Gila Monster*

      I work at a government agency, and it only accepts money orders. If you lose your ID, there’s a $20 fee, payable exclusively in money order. The ID office has a big laminated sign with directions to the nearest post office.

  105. MediumEd*

    All this talk makes me glad I work from home most of the time. I hated my college’s arcane supply ordering rules, which changed every few months when our administration wanted to save more money. We are now experiencing a major financial crunch and I am glad I can keep my favorite pens to myself in my home office as I look for new work!

  106. Anon this time*

    I worked in a lab that was moving to a new building and the prevailing attitude in our building was that we should just throw everything away* and buy new after the move. So there were massive boxes in the hallways full of lab supplies and roving gangs of scientists snooping for anything useful they could scavenge. I rescued a new-in-box multimeter, soldering iron, and engraver. No idea why we had any of them in the first place because none of them were the types of things we would routinely use. I did take the opportunity to get rid of a whole bunch of pathology/dissection supplies since the lab had quit doing animal work years before I joined but some of the previous lab employees had been inexplicably hoarding a bunch of expired supplies “just in case.”

    *to be fair for some of the consumables this made sense and supposedly our company hired another group to sort through our discard supplies and send anything useful to schools/non-profits so it was not going to the dump.

  107. Formeradmin*

    I used to be an Executive Assistant in the early 2000s, the lady who ordered the supplies for our department was a hoarder, there was a whole room jam packed with supplies and her cubicle was jam packed with supplies and food. Well she retired and the responsibility fell into me, they eventually told me to clean her desk out and as I was doing so, I found a couple of dead mice hidden under stuff. I was so grossed out. I spent a lot of time in that supply room organizing and purging old supplies, it was satisfying to get it into shape.

    1. Percy Weasley*

      A few years ago, one of our student assistants was purging some old (paper) files and found the dessicated body of a bat!

  108. HannahS*

    O! The dinosaur tech in hospitals.

    Things I had to learn how to use include 20th century tech including a fax machine, a pager, a air-pressure tube transport system (for paperwork; unfortunately not for people,) a medical record system that runs on MS-DOS and 19th century tech in the form of carbon paper order sheets, which are filled in duplicate while sitting next to a computer and photocopier/fax machine/scanner-that-sends-emails. The inefficiency boggles the mind.

  109. MHG*

    It’s been more than a decade since I worked in an office, but I do remember binder clips being valuable. My personally-bought purple binder clips would show up on on the desks of people way above me. Drove me nuts.

  110. Elizabeth*

    I am locked into a (good-natured) battle to the ends of the earth with our IT guy over the fax machine. We switched mainly to VOIP phone lines, but for other reasons, we have to have at least one landline. I know nothing about the tech side of this, only what costs I have to manage through supply chain.

    He keeps trying to tell me that there are redundancies and that network systems are far more stable and reliable than landlines, and every time he does, something happens. Teams crashes or our wifi goes down or we have no power to the building except the generator (which will power the fax but not computers). The last time, I got to spend a half day just walking by him saying “mmhmm”.

    I’m not actually devoted to the fax; I haven’t sent one in at least 20 years. But I enjoy how fate has a go at him each and every time he takes a stand.

  111. Ama*

    Back when I was the office manager for a graduate school, a predecessor in my position had inexplicably bought boxes and boxes of rubber bands (enough to fill two very tall cabinets). I have no idea why they thought we would need rubber bands at all, much less that many. I was at that job for three years and I let one of the grad students take a box when they were moving and wanted some for bundling small items and other than that I don’t think we ever even opened one.

    They also had bought a ridiculous amount of ledger size paper (that’s 11×17), which we only used during budget season and only about 25 pages each year, and multiple cabinets full of giant bottles of hand sanitizer, which I have to imagine got raided once 2020 hit, but they were so big my boss would have me buy the smaller ones during flu season because they were easier to distribute across the office.

    1. Chicago Anon*

      I bet they thought they were ordering one box of rubber bands, and it turned out that the “box” was actually 500 (or whatever) boxes packaged in a carton.

      1. Ama*

        I actually suspect what happened is they just bought the same quantity of everything in the first supply order when our building opened (the grad school was only a few years old when I was hired there and our initial operating budget was covered by a massive donor gift), and didn’t really think about the fact that 200 boxes of rubber bands wasn’t going to get used at the same rate as 200 reams of letter size paper.

      2. ICodeForFood*

        Yes! This happened to a department where I worked in the 1990s, when they thought they were ordering a package of salmon-colored 3″x5″ index cards, and they got a huge case!

  112. Moo*

    Garbage cans.

    Our workplace moved to centralized garbage stations about four or five months ago. This was not a problem, but then they came through one night and took ALL of the individual garbage cans and said we weren’t allowed to have them at our desks anymore. Now you had to get up and walk across the office any time you needed to throw something out. People had a fit. Turned out they left all of the recycling bins though, which were just garbage cans of a different color, so everyone lifted those and put in their own garbage bags. Cleaners were told not to empty individual cans which nobody objected to, but I think in the end they caved, because our regular cleaner still picks up our individual bags, and when she’s out another person does it too.

    1. Distracted Procrastinator*

      This is funny to me because I had a two month passive aggressive silent fight with facilities because I didn’t want a can at my cubicle. I wanted the knee space because I regularly use both sides of my L shaped desk and the can gets in the way. I have a small desktop garbage can (it looks like a little cube shaped robot and I love it.) I don’t need a trash and a recycle bin. Twice a week I would show up in the morning and have the two cans under my desk. I would immediately move them somewhere else in the building. The cycle would repeat itself. I finally won the battle.

      Yes, I could have left a note, but I got something out of the fight and I haven’t been able to define what that was, but satisfaction was part of it.

  113. Felt tip pens*

    Once I almost quit my job over pens. There’s a certain pen I like to use and it costs about $12 for a box that lasts a year (or longer), so I’d put in an order every year or so and it was always fine.

    I had been assigned a truly AWFUL project where I had to be the public face of something VERY unpopular that our department was doing. It was awful. I was being harassed by the public and my work did not step in to do anything. It was supposed to be a one off project, and I liked my job other than that, so I decided to just grit my teeth and bear it. When it finally wrapped up, I put in my yearly pen order, only to have it DENIED because “we’re not spending money on special pens anymore!”

    I was so angry I almost quit on the spot, and only didn’t because I texted a friend who talked me down. $12 pens could have bought a lot of goodwill, and wouldn’t have made a big difference in our budget. I had a new job within a few months.

  114. Sharpie*

    My previous job was in a warehouse, packing product. Thanks to COVID, everyone was issued their own tape gun and box cutter. I wound up with one of the two blue ones and wish I could have smuggled it and my box cutter out when I left. It’s crazy how attached you can get to something you use every day!

  115. Lefty*

    My first office job was very paper driven- the bulk of my job was a) inputting paper data to the computer, and b) printing out computer data for others (including a daily courier who would pick up my printed papers and deliver them to the corporate office… why email or upload when you can have Jeff do it!). Anyhow, the point is I stapled and unstapled many times a day, and I quickly learned not all staple removers are equal. The small pinchy ones were all i’d known, but my predecessor had acquired a bright pink wand style remover, which was a revelation- faster, more comfortable, and kept the removed staples. That was the only thing I took with me during the several branch transfers with that employer, and it’s currently within reach in my pen cup, a good 16yrs after leaving that company. I use it only a few times a year now (if that), but I’ll keep it forever.

  116. 1-800-BrownCow*

    At the manufacturing company I work at, we have machines that are ~30 years old that have the 3.5″ floppy disc drives. We recently had to save all our programs from the machine to a disc, as we had to do a factory reset on the machine and were going to lose all our programs. IT came through and managed to find some blank floppy discs in a box in their storage area. The IT person who helped us out is young enough to say he’d never actually used one before, but did know what one looked like. I was just impressed that we actually had what we needed. I told IT it was one of those rare moments that it paid to not toss old, outdated equipment, lol.

    Also, I work in a very male dominant field and after years of having scissors “disappear” from my desk, I bought myself a pair of scissors with hot pink handles. I’ve now had these scissors for 10 years now and no one has “forgotten” to return them when borrowed.

    1. NMitford*

      I haven’t seen any in stores in years now, but I had one job where I used to always buy boxes of pink Kleenex for my desk at work because a box of white Kleenex would practically evaporate overnight. I also had pink thumb drives for the same reason.

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      One software place I worked in inevitably needed a basic tool kit for dealing with recalcitrant computers. It turned out that the exact same zip-up folder of tools was half the price in pink rather than black. The folder was pink, most of the tools were pink, it was glorious.

      To this day I still have no idea *why* the pink toolkit was half the price. But I’m amused and grateful (albeit saving $20 when the lowest paid person in the office was on $40/hour is basically irrelevant)

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        It’s probably because they were less desirable and sold less well, on account of being pink.

        I recently bought a £70 set of headphones for £20, for what I’m assuming was the same reason – only the baby pink ones were discounted; the black and navy ones were full price.

  117. Elle Woods*

    In the days before digital documentation, there was a lot of bickering over the heavy duty three-hole punch at one place I worked. Colleagues would take the punch to their desk, use it, and either forget to take it back to the common area or get delayed in doing so. One of the admins in the department was so sick of people walking off with it that she bought flexible metal cable and a padlock and locked it a desk in the common area.

  118. Lexorez*

    I used to be in charge of ordering lab supplies, and I’d get big boxes filled with Kleenex dispenser style boxes full of gloves. I was the only woman and the only one who wore medium and one of the big boxes would last me the better part of a year and I would get three or four big boxes of large every 6 months for everyone else. We got a new guy who was really big and requested XL gloves, and from the moment the XL gloves hit the storage cupboard, not a single other man working there would deign to even look at the large gloves. When the XL gloves ran out unexpectedly quickly I had multiple people come to my office asking when we were getting more because they just could not wear large gloves on their XL hands. I eventually had to take my three nearly untouched big boxes of large gloves and donate them to a different department.

  119. Kristyn*

    Scissors. Somehow I only have child scissors (and I don’t work in a school?). I go into the office intermittently and that’s the one supply I can never find!

  120. Broken Lawn Chair*

    The credit card imprinter. You know (if you’re old enough) – you laid the card in its slot, put a 2 part carbon paper receipt on top, and slid the roller piece over it so the raised numbers on the card would be printed onto the receipt.

    We did get rid of it, but only about 5 years ago, and only after some discussion: “But what if the power goes out?” Okay, well, if the power goes out, first, we will close the store and kick everyone out for safety anyway. Second, if the power is out we can’t ring people up anyway – the UPSs on the registers might last long enough to finish current transaction, but that’s all. Third, how would we approve a large purchase? Now it’s electronic, but back in the day sometimes people would call the credit card issuer for approvals. Do you know who and how to call for that? I don’t, and I think if I tried they’d be like “what?” And finally, if we did take someone’s card this way, how would we tell the system they had paid? And how would we send this slip in to the card company to get the money? We don’t have a mechanism to do that.

    You can still buy these things, so the mechanisms must exist somewhere, but we’re definitely not set up for it in my very large retail employer.

    1. callmeheavenly*

      do most cards even have raised numbers anymore? I don’t think I’ve seen that in a while.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        My very first card for most accounts does, such as my new checking and FSA accounts, but any replacements, like the credit card I canceled when I thought I lost my wallet, don’t have them.

    2. Random Bystander*

      I remember those. And I remember in a forum once someone described that and then asked “that can’t be legal, can it?” Someone informed the youngster that that used to be the way it was done. (Of course, these days, it seems all my cards are going to printing the number flat on the card, so it wouldn’t work.)

      I also worked for a time in a small store where we *did* have a power outage and did not close (it was a ladies’ clothing store). We hand-wrote the receipts with all the sku numbers and prices, had a little “cheat card” to tell the correct amount of sales tax for the totals, and a solar-powered calculator. And yes, we did use the old credit card imprinter, called MC or Visa for an approval #. I was also the only associate who didn’t have to use the calculator to figure out change for the cash customers, because I still remembered the “count back” method. (For those who don’t remember, let’s say that the customer’s total was $23.62 and they handed over two twenties–so you put penny one in their hand “twenty-three sixty-three,” next penny “twenty-three sixty-four”, next penny “twenty-three sixty-five” a dime “twenty-three seventy-five” a quarter “twenty-four dollars”, a dollar bill “twenty-five” a five “thirty” and a ten “and that makes forty dollars”. Co-worker looked at me like I was doing alchemy, then she’d punch the numbers into the calculator and realize that I had given the correct change in less time than it took her to punch the numbers into the calculator.)

  121. Tio*

    Wet erase markers for whiteboards. We’re not even teachers or anything that uses whiteboards often; but because of that, people steal them, and no one orders them because we don’t use them enough, so there are never any to go around… so people who do use them start taking them, sequestering them in their offices and whatnot, and the cycle continues. These whiteboards only really exist in the conference rooms and are rarely used.

  122. HEL*

    The most coveted and hoarded items in my office were metal cranks that could be inserted over a nut in our desks to raise or lower the desks. There seemed to about one for every 20 desks, so it paid to keep track of who had one and what they appreciated for bribes. I inherited mine from a coworker who left and relished my position of power and generosity.
    Now we’ve mostly moved to open space and we have electric standing desks on rollers, and my crank handle is just a marker of my tenure and age.

  123. Girasol*

    Coat hooks: those little plastic squiggles that fit neatly over the top of a cubicle wall. Once I was scavenging the office supply drawer where people dumped half-used pads of paper, old pens, and unwanted office items that might still be useful, and came across a bunch of coat hooks. Just the thing to hang my headset and keep it from getting knocked off the desk, I thought. Soon after the VP’s admin sent around a memo saying that “Everyone may have ONE coat hook! You people who are hoarding coat hooks, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!! Put them back!!” I’m pretty sure I was the unintentional culprit. I sheepishly returned my extra hook to the heap in the junk drawer.

  124. Ipsissima*

    The High Chair (not highchair. My coworkers frequently act like children but i do not work with literal infants). We got a new workstation that is about 2″ higher than the old one. People immediately lost their shit and demanded a new chair to go with it. Several employees refused to use the workstation until a new chair was available. The new chair was duly ordered. It is about 4″ taller than a standard office chair (which we had been using) and only fits at the workstation if it (the chair) is lowered as far as possible. Our standard chairs adjust up to 4″ taller. I, the shortest person by far, have no problem using the workstation with a standard chair on its lowest setting. Weirdly, everyone clamoring for the High Chair is now complaining of backache.

    The High Chair still has its devoted followers, but most of us will shove it in a corner and use a standard chair. Sometimes a department that shares our space will borrow the High Chair, and they always give it back before day shift (the High Chair devotees) arrive. They forgot ONCE, but instead of just … walking ten extra steps to grab the Chair (which, by that point, no one was using), day shift decided the appropriate response would be to scream at the day shift of the other department (who had themselves just arrived and were understandably clueless about the Chair), calling them thieves and liars. There are now signs (yes, that’s signs, plural) taped to the Chair. There have been memos about the Chair. There have been entire meetings about the Chair. One time, for a prank, some interns took the Chair and put it on another floor of our building. There was an immediate uproar. Departmental directors were in a frenzy, trying to determine who took the Chair and which department was lying about taking the Chair. (They did not bother to actually look for the Chair, which was in a conference room we used at least once a month. Nor did they ask second or third shift about the Chair.) The interns brought it back after a week, but still, several months later, The Mystery of the Stolen Chair: It Was Probably Those Bastards From Special Testing is still hotly debated.

    (I am swearing all of you to secrecy about this. I like our interns, and if it comes out that they were the Chair thieves, the High Chair Cult will try to ruin their careers.)

  125. theletter*

    Not really an office supply, but I’ve noticed what seems to be an office-supply oriented shift when it comes to florescent overhead lights.

    Most people who take notes on note apps want the lights turned off. Most people who take notes on paper want the lights turned on.

    Pre-pandemic, when everyone sat in sections with their teams, some team divides became a little more apparent when certain corners of the office went dark.

  126. CupcakeCounter*

    My old employer only bought really cheap, crappy pens. One of our employees retired and started a part time business in a specialty he had. It wasn’t common and the company needed it periodically so we hired him 2X a year for these special projects. His first on-site visit he brought these pens. They were awesome! 2 dozen were gone in seconds and people started locking their desk drawers for the first time ever. Each time he came in he brought more and more pens – honestly he probably brought in at least 500 pens over 2 years and there were only about half a dozen of us so the hoarding was real. He was onsite for a project my last day and gave me a dozen pens as a going away gift. Its been 5 years and I still hoard those pens (don’t even share with my husband).

  127. ReallyBadPerson*

    I inherited an office (church job) with a huge, CRT TV that had been donated by a parishioner in the 1970s. No one dared to get rid of it. I asked my predecessor why she she had kept it hulking in there for her entire tenure, and she said that the older ladies got upset when she proposed it. One day, I was cleaning other clutter out of my office when the pastor walked in, said, “Need help dumping that?” and pointed to the TV. We picked it up and just dropped it in the outside waste bin.

  128. Finn*

    The mess in the storage room. A huge stack of cardboard boxes, computer screens, books, and I don’t know what else…
    Not so much sacred as the boss not wanting to tidy it himself and he can’t delegate it to any of my teammates or me.
    Though, he refuses to throw out the old signs that we legally can’t use anymore.
    The stuff that people use gets stored in their offices etc.

  129. Seashell*

    Now I really want an update on the “My ex-boss threatened to contact my husband, his coworkers, and my father-in-law if I don’t return $48 of office supplies” letter.

  130. Cookies For Breakfast*

    At an old job, we moved from an office where supplies were in plain sight and ready to use at any time, to one where nobody knew where they were stored or whether we still kept any. It was one of those fancy design concept offices where employees are not allowed to leave a single personal item on a desk, so I think the reason for hiding supplies was avoiding whatever my then employer considered as “mess” (aka proof there were humans there doing jobs).

    Eventually, I found out there was a limited range of actually useful supplies in the office manager’s desk drawer (scissors, post-its, pens, markers). Every single time I needed something, I’d have to go ask the office manager if I could please borrow it, and in return, received looks that suggested I was the recipient of an extraordinary act of generosity I was not worthy of. That is how I convinced myself that the office manager disliked me for some reason.

  131. librarianmom*

    When I first started my job (35 years ago!!!) I used pencils for a very common function. Unfortunately I would sometimes walk around with a pencil in hand and lose it. The woman in charge of the supplies got quite annoyed with me, handed me two pencils, and told me to make sure I kept track of them since they were the last ones I were getting for a while. Pencils! I lucked out when she retired shortly after that.

    1. librarianmom*

      In a related vein, I was gifted an electric pencil sharpener by a former volunteer. (Ok I used pencils a lot at one time during my long tenure — but not so much anymore.) I hated the sharpener the the whole office used, and I needed to sharpen often (Ok I was a little obsessed with having a sharp pencil point!) She listened to my rantings enough to quite generously gift me one that she had at home and wasn’t using. I loved having it right on my desk and plan to take it with me when I retire this summer.

    2. Once too Often*

      One day I couldn’t find any of my pencils. A colleague came in & I mentioned looking for them. She pointed out that I had 3 tucked in the bun in my hair!

  132. DumpsterFireDaily*

    At a previous job, the office manager would print out Every. Single. Paper. having to do with contracts or clients, despite the fact that everything was securely stored electronically. She had been the Office Manager for close to 30 years. She would make sure everything was saved to the online database, but would STILL print everything to a physical file and store it in a room that had 50 filing cabinets in it. She insisted on doing this because that ONE TIME in 2008 where the server crashed and she had to redo about half a day’s worth of work. The strange thing about all of this was that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE could touch her files. I opened a drawer up one day because I was genuinely curious and confused about why someone would insist on doing this. She about slapped my hand off and slammed the drawer shut, mustering all of her 5’2 frame to death glare up at me. She then scolded me about how these files were confidential, despite the fact that I could access all of them on the database.

  133. chinnybob*

    The building I work in has racks in the garage where I leave my bike. There was some construction work going on and for a while the security staff at the entrance would insist on wrestling you into a hi-vis vest before letting you in. Needless to say I started collecting them out of protest and there’s now about 30 on the back of my chair.. Everyone thinks I’m a fire marshall and the building had to buy more vests.

  134. sequitur*

    There’s a stapler in my office mail room that has a little tag on the front saying “Name:”, presumably from the era when people had their own personal staplers and didn’t want them to get stolen.

    Some comedian has written “Mr Stapler” on the nametag, and it always brings me joy to see Mr Stapler in the mail room.

    1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      When I confiscated a co-worker’s charger with the exposed wires (wearing my Safety hat) I christened it the Right Reverend Dr. Zappy (using a Sharpie) before putting it in the e-waste bin.

  135. Pauli*

    I was a young intern for a respected elderly curator. Management had confiscated her slide projectors, which I believe she considered a direct attack and an attempt to force her into retirement before she was ready to leave her comfy corner office. I spent a lot of time making her power point presentations so they looked as much like slide presentations as possible (and burning them onto CD-RWs!)

  136. Not Australian*

    This is timely, because I’m looking at a tin full of treasury tags and wondering whether I’ll ever need them again…

  137. Loves Libraries*

    I worked in a school library for middle and high school students in2013-2017. I found an amazing collection of film strips. Some were so fancy that they had the cassette tape that narrated the film strips. I tossed them so fast because I was afraid that if I asked I would be told no. And guess what, no one ever wondered where they were.

  138. Nicole T*

    My current editing gig is completely digital, but I still keep a copy of our old style guide (new version is digital) and a print Merriam-Webster dictionary at my desk. I never use them, but it feels weird not to have them!

  139. GiantPanda*

    When my Mom retired she took stacks of obsolete continuous paper and unused punch cards from the 1970s with her. She won’t be able to use it up in her lifetime and has given some to me.

    I have taken it as note paper to my office, and it got envious nostalgic looks from older coworkers (ancient looking! yellowed! holes on the side! endless! – haven’t seen that in decades!) but I am not giving any away…

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Side note: Mary-Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series is an alt -history spin on the space race starting early with a Hidden Figures element. For a promo for the last book in the series, she included punch cards as part of a pre-order bonus.

    2. pally*

      Yeah, I have some tablets (the paper kind!) my dad brought home from his work at Lockheed in the 1980’s. They are nice too.

      Anyhow, back in the 1960’s, my dad was an electrical engineer with Westinghouse. One of the perks they offered allowed the employees to purchase light bulbs at a cut-rate price. So he took advantage.

      Fast forward to 2024, Dad’s passed on. Mom is still using those light bulbs. Whenever one blows out, she goes into her closet and gets another Westinghouse-purchased light bulb. Yes folks, my dad had purchased a lifetime+ supply of light bulbs. And there’s plenty still left in her closet.

      I suspect I’ll be using these lightbulbs too-once she passes on. Don’t want to waste them!

      1. Non-profit drone*

        I pay large amounts of money for actual incandescent lightbulbs, not the awful LED ones. I literally can’t see to read with the LED ones. The frequency or whatever you call it gives me horrible headaches. I have a couple of online sources that sell incandescents still. If you really want to get rid of the Westinghouse ones, I’ll buy them from you.

    3. Tammy 2*

      I used to work at a job where we would occasionally need to scan inventory reports from car dealerships that were printed on a dot-matrix printer. I looooooove ripping the perforated strips off the sides. So satisfying.

  140. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    At a former company, we moved buildings and had to do a massive clean out. I was in IT at the time, and the former manager was a hoarder. This was 2018. We found Microsoft Office on floppy disk from 1994, unopened. We also found about a million AOL installation CDs, in addition to a bunch of floppy disks.

  141. tan audel*

    they weren’t sacred so much as it felt like a natural cycle: every month (before we went paperless, more recently than you’d think), we’d use paperclips at an astonishing rate for about two weeks. by the end of that time we’d often be running out, trying to scrounge them from the desks of people who didn’t use them so much. but most of the time it didn’t make sense to just order more because as soon as the next stage of the process got done, they’d all trickle back and we’d have an ocean of paperclips again. repeat monthly.

  142. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    The random coat tree (from a crappy store, definitely not an Official Purchase) that is in the supply room with a note on it pointing out that is broken (it’s missing a leg), but somehow does not get simply tossed.

  143. The Farmer's Daughter*

    Teacher here! When I moved schools, back to my hometown, I asked the secretary if I could please have a tape dispenser but she told me in no uncertain terms that she had ordered 3 new ones and they had already been taken so I was out of luck until next year. Fast forward a month or two and I was in the city and near a big box office supply store and feeling flush with cash and ready to splurge on what must obviously be a big ticket item. It was $3.99. Seriously?!?!

  144. Scavenging Crow*

    As a young HR assistant, I ordered supplies for the office, including new hires. It was much easier to get nice new equipment when you were first hired than after you’d been there a while, so longtime workers often had organizational systems that were pieced together, supplies showing wear and tear, etc.

    When someone new didn’t work out long-term, I’d raid their vacated desk and switch out the supplies, giving myself and others the “good” stuff. It was a great run until one of the bigger bosses realized what was going on and sent an email calling us all scavenging crows. They shut down my “redistribution program,” but never actually traced it to me.

    Also, crows are resourceful, intelligent creatures and I still appreciate the comparison!

    1. Cat*

      Not sure if intentional or not, but the phrasing of this implies that new hires are classed as office supplies…

  145. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

    Spouse used to work at a campus library where The Stapler was the most sacred of office supplies and also, the most fought-over symbol of power. The Stapler lived on the reference desk. It was never to leave the reference desk lest chaos befall all who sought serenity in the library. However, the reference desk was the worst place for The Stapler.

    The only people who used it were students who had just finished printing in the computer lab. If they wanted to staple their printed documents, they had to trek from the computer lab in one corner of the ground floor all the way to the opposite corner which, according to independent student surveys done in the comments box, was the longest point-A-to-point-B in the whole library.

    The morning shift reference desk librarian was sick of the lines forming at the desk just to use The Stapler, so they started moving it over to the computer lab printer where it would be the most useful. The later shift librarian was outraged. The Stapler should never be moved from this exact spot on the reference desk! It must be visible to the reference librarians at all times because if it were to be out of sight, some ne’er-do-well surely will abscond with it! So The Stapler was moved back to the reference desk, only to be moved to the computer lab the following morning by the morning shift librarian.

    This went on for weeks until the later shift librarian convinced facilities to attach a chain to The Stapler that kept it permanently attached to the reference desk. The morning shift librarian was not amused (nor were students who had to try and awkwardly staple while attached to a chain). A week later, the chain was mysteriously cut in two and The Stapler returned to the computer lab.

    The later shift librarian finally had enough and moved The Stapler to underneath the reference desk so students would have to ask for it, which only exacerbated the problem. The morning shift librarian complained to the library director, meetings were held, powerpoints made, political factions formed, nothing got resolved.

    Finally, someone had enough and brought in a second stapler for the computer lab. It immediately disappeared. The later shift librarian was adamant this amounted to proof of the righteousness of their position. The morning shift librarian wasn’t fooled and found the second stapler hidden in a drawer in the later shift librarian’s workstation.

    When spouse left that job, the war over The Stapler was still raging and we have no idea if it ever got resolved. I kind of hope it’s still ongoing, hearing about the latest stapler-related antics was often the highlight of my day.

  146. Art of the Spiel*

    Back in the dark ages, I worked in insurance for a company that refused to use those new-fangled post-it notes. We had to staple or paperclip.

    My stapler had a broken spring, so my staples were all bent. Admin *refused* to purchase a new one. I started saving the 3-4 bent up misfired staples for every successful one. Once I had a nice pile, I put them in a baggie and asked her: “If I can save enough of these to sell them to a scrap dealer for enough money to purchase a new stapler, will you consider it?”

    Got the heck out of there before I had the $$ saved up…