the XL gloves, the eyeball embalmers, and other stories of office supply obsessions run amok

Last week, we talked about sacred office supplies — supplies and equipment in your office that people hoard or that are as untouchable as holy relics. Here are 12 of my favorite stories you shared.

1. A hole punch named Sue

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!

2. The XL gloves

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 six 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.

3. The high chair

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 10 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.

4. The missing internet

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.”

5. The individual printers

My boss is obsessed with every member of their team having their own printer. Never mind 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.

6. The rationing

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, 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.

7. The ancient computer

When I started this job in 2021, 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.

8. The forks

I am a CPA, I started my career in a big 4 accounting firm, then was employed as a controller for a mid-size company, then became a consultant. So between my own places of employment and my clients, I have worked in dozens of different office settings. The one thing that A LOT of places had in common, was forks.

Forks tend to disappear from the kitchen. Which leads to people hoarding them at their desks. Which leads to even more forks missing. I have seen people arguing over the last remaining fork.

One place had a sign-out sheet for forks.

One place had a locked utensils drawer that needed a key from an admin to open.

Others had drawers overflowing with spoons and knives because procurement would buy complete utensils sets to replace missing forks and not get rid of the spoons and knives from old sets.

Many times over. I was asked to write procedures specifically addressing kitchenware management.

I learned quickly to bring my own fork and keep it in my lunchbox.

9. The tape shortage

My office once had a massive tape shortage. We receive broken laptops daily and would tape a printout of the repair ticket to each laptop so that we could easily match laptop to ticket. But when we ran out of tape, we couldn’t do that and instead just put the printouts on top of the laptop or wrote the ticket number on a sticky note. Those inevitably fell off and it took ages to figure out what troubleshooting has already been done with Laptop A, why Laptop B is even here, where Laptop C is when its owner came to pick it up, etc. It was chaos!

My colleagues and our supervisors all blamed our director, who had access to the budget and clearly did not care about us enough to order the basic office supplies needed to do our jobs. Resentment festered. Eventually, an associate director position was created to help bridge this disconnect. The AD met with us as a team and asked how he could help us. He was surprised that the #1 request was tape. Just regular old tape, but everyone was yelling and freaking out about how critical this was. So he got tape. About half the department was happy and went on our merry way, just doing our jobs. The other half was still resentful, convinced that the AD was a “pawn” of the director who had only given us tape to buy our goodwill before eventually “showing his true colors.”

A few months into this new regime, one of the supervisors was let go for an unrelated issue. When the AD went to clean out her office, he discovered a whole drawer full of tape. She had been hoarding it for months, while being the loudest voice complaining about the tape shortage and watching our workflow crumble into chaos. We suspect that neither of the supervisors ever actually told the director that we were low on tape in the first place (because we clearly weren’t!), so he probably never even knew he was allegedly ignoring our basic office supply needs.

10. The fax machine

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 email it to us, and the sent email 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.

11. The stapler

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.

12. The embalmer

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.

{ 360 comments… read them below }

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

      I’ve known they were staple removers my entire life, but still, at age 44, like to pretend they’re alligators come to bite my fingers. But that’s an amazing story- I wish I had something so dramatic with staple removers.

      About ten years ago, I had an intern that was in college and I needed to him to separate some paper that was stapled together. When I got the pile of paper back, he had very, very carefully ripped all the pages apart off of the staples (why he didn’t think to undo the staples from the back with his fingernails, I’ll never know) so the next time I handed him the same project, I said, “Here are the papers, here is the highlighter, here’s the staple remover, here’s the paperclips…” and gave it all to him without explanation. Later, I saw him squeezing the staple remover and staring at it like he had no idea what it did or how to use it. I kind of love him for it.

      1. Lora*

        Depending upon the staples and nails. Using the nails to remove the staples is a good way to fuck up your nails.

        It was also about ten years after we got our first stapler that a staple remove ever crossed my path.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Or, if you have tragically weak nails as I do, it will fully mess up your fingers. This would have ended in blood for me. Or I’d have tried using my teeth…

      2. But what to call me?*

        I’m not sure at what age I first used a staple remover or even knew they were a thing, but there’s a good chance it was after college. It’s the kind of thing that seems like common sense almost on the level of ‘here’s how a stapler works’ when you regularly work with a lot of stapled papers, but when your only experience with staples is stapling your homework together to turn it in it’s entirely possible to have no idea such a thing exists. I would have been there right along with your intern carefully ripping the pages apart, at least after my fingers started to hurt from removing a few with my fingernails.

        I still tend to forget staple removers are a thing on the rare occasion I need to remove a staple.

    2. Gila Monster*

      I am laughing until I am crying on this one, and grateful that I’m working from home today.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Yeah, I laughed out loud at that one! I saw the phrase in the title of the post and couldn’t figure out how that applied to office supplies, so when I got there I was delightfully surprised. (I always loved the mini-fang style of staple removers – but would never have associated them with eyeballs OR embalming. Though I gather some surgeries use staples to close the incisions, so maybe they’re useful in a medical sense?)

      1. A Significant Tree*

        Can confirm on staples for post surgery incisions, but I don’t think they used those fang-type staple removers (I couldn’t watch). This story made my day, I could see it so perfectly!

        1. AnonRN*

          I remove small staples and the remover tip is much smaller but works on the same principle of “unfolding” the staple so it slides out. The staples are more of a rectangle in situ than a B-shape like a paper staple.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      This is the best Kid Reasoning I’ve heard since my mom’s story about how her favorite candy as a child was Butterscotch Life Savers. Her mom would buy her a roll at the grocery store and go off to shop while she ate them (you could abandon your kid up near the cash registers then and just scoop them up when you checked out.)

      Well, once she wasn’t paying attention and bought Butter RUM Life Savers. My mother ate one, was bewildered…ate another…came to the solemn conclusion that they were poisoned, and proceeded to finish the entire roll of “poisoned” candy.

      1. But what to call me?*

        Thank you for reminding me about Butterscotch Life Savers, because:
        1) I want some, and
        2) My mom’s birthday is approaching and I need to start searching for some to add to her birthday present. Those things can be hard to find, unless you want 50 packs of them from amazon or something.

        1. Name_Required*

          Do you live near a Cracker Barrel? They are the GO TO place for hard to find candy from the 70s and stuff!

    5. Clisby*

      About a year ago I had to have 3-4 staples in my scalp. When I told my son I had an appointment for a doctor to remove them, he rummaged in one of the kitchen drawers, triumphantly brought out a staple remover, and told me he could take care of it.

      1. Imtheone*

        I have staples in my scalp right now. I’m sorely tempted to use your son’s solution!

      2. Never the Twain*

        Given that situation s a kid I can absolutely picture my dad thoughtfully looking at my scalp and wondering which of his many, many tools would be best to save needlessly bothering the people at the hospital. I mean, skin is basically pre-tanned leather ok, so if we’re gentle, you just sit still, try not to move and maybe we can have an ice cream after.
        Tough love, but it certainly stopped you complaining if your tonsils were hurting.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        I actually have…an instrument to remove medical staples/stitches in the drawer under this computer. When I had an operation, a nurse gave it to me to bring to my doctor if the stitches were causing pain and needed to be removed quickly. I was supposed to bring it back when I got the stitches removed but I forgot and so…it is still in my drawer.

        1. Bitte Meddler*

          I removed my own stitches using that tool.

          Doc office: “We have to cancel your appointment because the doc has had a family emergency. He won’t be back for a week.”

          Me: “But…stitches? They’re due to be taken out.”

          Doc office: “You could go to an urgent care center.”

          Me: “Oh, wait, I have an unopened pack of suture removal tools from my last surgery. I’ll just take them out myself.”

          Doc office: “Um, that might not be a good idea.”

          Me: “Nah. I’ll go to the urgent care center if I mess it up.”

          Doc office: “But the stitches go in a certain way…”

          Me: “Yep, I’ll Google it. Thanks!”

      4. But what to call me?*

        That reminds me of my dad’s proposed solution when one of my earrings broke overnight and what was left of the front somehow got stuck inside my earlobe. He was very sure he could get it out with pliers. My mom immediately vetoed that suggestion and took me to the doctor.

    6. Goldenrod*

      This story is so cute!

      LW – You are lucky not to know me in person because I would literally NEVER stop teasing you about this.

    7. NerdyKris*

      The best one. Makes me feel better about the time I said I’d be an undertaker in a play when I meant understudy.

    8. Nosmo King*

      I share an office. My officemate is on an Important Zoom Meeting trying to get funding from our local government.

      I just snort-laughed at the end of this post and then tried mightily to keep my laughter in audible.

      That was hard.

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    You thought the coffee wars were bad — apparently people are completely bonkers about office supplies.

    Okay I may have a supply cabinet for my home office because I am a sucker for buying office supplies — but at least I have a pen when I need one and I don’t have to fill out a requisition form.

    1. Frieda*

      We used to have a system where you signed out each dang pen/pad of paper/box of staples one at a time, in a binder. The costs were deducted from your department’s budget.

      Then we moved to a “we don’t do that, we’re not an office supply store, take the Staples card” system. Which is kind of fun unless you lose or run out of something you need that day.

      Now we can pick stuff up out of our supervisor’s office – there’s a bookshelf of stuff and you just take what you need, and her admin orders more when stuff runs low. So sensible.

      1. Amber T*

        In high school I volunteered/interned at a local big name charity in their back office. It wasn’t quite as strict, but I remember they wouldn’t give me “my own” pens/papers and that I would have to borrow anything from the two volunteer coordinators (which was fine – I was there once a week and they had me doing something different every time so I didn’t really need anything). The one thing that sticks out to me was the giant photocopier/printer – you would need to put in either your employee ID or department ID every time you wanted to print something so they could deduct it against the department budget. It was very clear that I would not have access to any of those ID numbers and to ask someone if I needed to make a copy.

        So to young me, that’s how offices worked – you needed to ask your supervisor for a pen and making single copy of anything had a strict set of rules. Imagine my surprise when I started my full time job in an office and plenty of pens, notebooks, everything I could need was left on my desk for me when I started and was shown the full supply closet in case anything was missing.

        1. Coverage Associate*

          It’s getting rarer, but some law firms still require codes for copying and printing, so they can bill the client.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Back when we were still in office we had codes to print at my job. But it was more about confidential information not sitting around on a communal printer when the nurses would get non stop waylaid by questions on their way to the printer.

            (Just the back office admin staff got sent home – billing insurance can be done anywhere, they took our work space and made it into a telehealth visit room.)

            1. Venus*

              That’s the situation for us, for the same reason. Our printer requires that I swipe my building pass, so it’s easy.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I’ve worked in BigLaw and this was indeed a thing, but instead of faffing about with codes we would simply count the pages (eg for a 100-page document you’d bill 100 pages). It was only really enforced for major projects like discovery though.

        2. Selina Luna*

          The school district where I did my training was like this. It tracked every single sheet of paper every teacher, department, administrator, and faculty member used, and it had a ridiculously small budget for teachers for paper specifically-$500 at 10 cents a sheet. This was just barely before laptops in classrooms became a thing, and so “don’t write on these copies” was just what I did.

      2. La Triviata*

        An office I worked in years ago, one person would send any new/temporary staff person to me for supplies. I had an unending stream of people coming to me for envelopes, labels, pens, etc. The final straw for me was when she sent a person to me for a pencil sharpener – the person told me they didn’t want to walk down the hall to use the pencil sharpener, they wanted to use “my” sharpener or, alternatively, have me walk down the hall and sharpen their pencils for them.

    2. RainyDay*

      I work a hybrid schedule and my husband gets so annoyed when I use my own money to buy my favorite pens or a new notebook. The process for ordering these through our approved vendor with a company credit card (once you get set up with an account, obviously) and then figuring out who has the package when you go into the office is worth the stupid $7 out of pocket.

  2. WeirdChemist*

    Oh man, that glove one…

    One time when I had a hand injury, I got a box of XL gloves so that it could cover the splint… I had to hide the box so that all the guys in my lab would stop stealing them!

    I have also worked with a woman who would squish into XS gloves for the pride of it as well…

    1. Double A*

      I really thought the resolution to that one would be the OP just put all the L gloves into the XL boxes and no one ever noticed.

      1. MAC*

        That is 100% what I was hoping for, and what I would have done in that situation. And then just give the dude who *actually* needed the XLs his own box and re-order for him as needed.

      2. AKchic*

        I’ve done that before. Same with condoms. Some people just will not admit that they are *not* XLs regardless of the evidence. So, we manage them accordingly and put everything in the XL boxes and let them *think* they are getting XLs. Then we give the real XL’s their own specially labeled box.

        1. JustaTech*

          In college as part of freshman orientation we had a session about safe sex and part of that was a friend of mine showing off his trick where he could put a condom over his head. (Just don’t pull it all the way down and cover your mouth *and* nose.)
          “See? It stretches. You don’t need an extra large and yes you will fit. And if he says he doesn’t fit, that’s a sign to stop right there.”

          Thankfully my coworkers seem to be able to accurately size their gloves without feeling like it’s a statement about their masculinity or femininity. (Also, too-big gloves are instantly annoying and make work much, much harder.)

      3. Salsa Your Face*

        Yes, I really wished they’d done this! Let all the other guys dip into the fake XL box, and secretly tell the big guy that the real XL gloves were hidden somewhere else.

      4. AW*

        I too was hoping for that resolution. it’s 100% what I would have done, at least until the L gloves were all used up!

      5. Lexorez*

        Haha I should have! Funnily enough the big guy left after less than 6 months but when I left that job several years (and still the only woman) later, I had still never had anyone admit they needed Large. I don’t doubt my last few boxes of mediums are enshrined in the supply cupboard to this day

      1. Billy Preston*

        But also the women, cause who would squish themselves into too small things willingly?

        1. pally*

          With the too-small latex gloves, they tend to tear and render themselves useless.

          We had boxes of XS gloves that no one could fit into. So I squished my hands into them (I usually wear a small glove) to try and use them up. More often than not, I’d end up ripping them.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            If they were equivalent to a children’s large, they would fit me, but I don’t use protective clothing in my work.

            Winter gloves are an entirely different story, and I was delighted many years ago to find Powerpuff Girls gloves that matched my winter coat.

          2. WeirdChemist*

            Yes, that’s what this woman would do too! But she kept insisting she was an extra small, and NOT a small…

            And all the guys would insist they were XL, even though their gloves were loose enough on their fingers to knock things over…

            Just wear PPE that fits! No one cares lol

          3. kjinsea*

            I have very small hands. Really. For reference, I can share gloves with my five year old child. When I worked at a place that required gloves, for some ungodly reason, we could not specify size when we ordered, we got just got random sizes, usually mediums which were fine for most of our staff. But when we got XS, I got the WHOLE BOX to myself. I did not have to worry about running out of gloves usually which was amazing. Once in a while another staff would try to use them when we started running low, but they generally could not fit and gave up in frustration.

        2. Elsewise*

          Many years ago, I worked for a nonprofit that handed out free t-shirts at a charity golf tournament. I was there for hours and did not move a single “Large”. 90% of the men picked XL, even if that was clearly too large for them, the rest either picked XXL (these men were usually actually of a size that worked for that) or Medium. The vast majority of women picked Small, with a few picking Medium. (One woman picked Small, left, and then came back and tried to knock the medium pile into the small pile so she could put her shirt back and pick up a medium and pretend it was a small. I felt very sad for her.) No one would pick large. Not a single person.

          I’ve seen people choose vanity sizes before, but never to the degree I’d seen at that golfing event. Maybe golfers are just special?

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            Ugh. At my old company, they order all your branded swag based on your safety vest size. So I, an average height stoutish woman, got to identify as a men’s XL because the women’s vests were a close fitting, non breathable style clearly not meant for doing actual work in. So now I also have a selection of roomy comfy shirts and hoodies that – bonus! – accommodate my freakishly long gorilla arms.

            I will take comfort and utility over vanity any day.

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              I was looking at safety jackets online earlier this winter (thinking that the visibility + warmth needed for, say, outdoor highway work or whatever would be perfect for biking) and one brand explicitly described their women’s gear as “accentuating your curves while keeping you safe.” UGH.

              1. Kara*

                I just go for the men’s gear and accept that the fit isn’t going to be perfect. The men’s gear survives wear and tear better, is generally warmer and/or drier, and has POCKETS!

                1. AnReAr*

                  No, even women’s utility clothes have been affected by the pocket embargo?! I was always under the impression they’d be the last bastion of hope.

            2. Goldfeesh*

              I also have freakishly long gorilla arms! So hard finding a coat or shirts with long enough sleeves. My husband has a long torso and short legs- we decided it was a good thing we didn’t have kids- they might have been knuckle draggers looks-wise.

          2. Coverage Associate*

            In high school, one school opener picnic, the boys actually went for the mediums, leaving the girls with the larges. The mediums did fit them ok, but the larges definitely didn’t fit the girls.

          3. Gracie*

            I’m an M woman who would probably have taken those L off your hands! Not because of vanity sizing reasons, but because all free shirts are automatically sleep shirts, and I prefer L or X/XL for those (and if there’s a selection of free things, I’d leave the XL/XXL ones for people who need them)

          4. Petty_Boop*

            That’s so sad to care THAT much! When I go to a conference or expo where they’re giving out swag, or buy a Tshirt at a concert etc.. I ALWAYS ask for a 2XL, because I know the ONLY thing I’m going to use those shirts for is sleeping in. It’s not like I’m wearing a give away Tshirt out to the Mall or something. People are weird.

        3. Dorothy Zpornak*

          eh, I should probably use a small for my hand size, but then the fingers are too long, and not having a bunch of excess at the fingertips actually matters more than having the hand part be tight, so I’d pick the smaller size too.

        4. Jay*

          I’m a guy who has worked a lot of gloves intensive jobs.
          There are a LOT of guys out there who wear size L gloves because that’s what they wore in high school/college.
          Then they tried on my XL’s and suddenly discovered that you CAN in fact gain weight in your hands as well as your gut.
          A lot of thirty-somethings (and a few forty-somethings) discovered they have been wearing the wrong size gloves out of habit for a decade or more.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Exactly. It’s entirely possible that the guys actually just prefer the way XL gloves fit.

            Disposable gloves are stretchy, so most people can use more than one size… but that doesn’t mean it will be as comfortable. I prefer snug gloves because I hate the feeling of them bunching or slipping around, but a lot of my coworkers prefer slightly loose gloves because it’s easer to get them on/off and they don’t like the skintight feeling.

          2. Chris Hogg*

            There’s a joke … and old-school joke … about the size of a man’s underpants … it is hilarious and one of the funniest I’ve ever heard.

            It goes like this … oh, wait, this is mixed company and a family show … never mind.

      2. Myrin*

        In situations like this, I always wish for that one guy on… Twitter? Reddit?… who, whenever he was in a group with other people, told them that he was smaller than he actually was, which made all the other guys freak out trying to explain that no no, they actually were as tall as they’d said before, but nobody ever suspected that he had plain lied about his height.

        1. Orv*

          I’m actually 6′ even, and a lot of guys argue with me about my own height because they’ve been rounding up from 5’10” for so long they’ve forgotten they do it.

          1. Eff Walsingham*

            My husband gets the same arguments. He’s 6’2″. *Actual* 6’2″, not fanciful. But certain guys seem to think he’s just claiming it to be annoying and make them look bad.

          2. A mathematician*

            My Dad will say he’s six feet and half an inch tall just to emphasise that he’s not rounding up :P

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              One of my high school classmates would jokingly say that she was 5’12” (she was 6’0″) because people (generally men) would accept that without question, but freak and try to argue if she said 6′.

              (For people blissfully unfamiliar with the measurement scale, you start over at the next foot designation once you hit 12 inches, so saying 5’12” is not done. She was indeed 6 feet tall.)

              1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                I am a 5’9″ woman. So many men who are obviously shorter than I am say they’re 5’9″, and so many who are my height say they’re 5’11”. So they tell me I must be taller than I think I am.

          3. ceiswyn*

            Whereas, weirdly, my father has been saying he’s 5’11 1/2 all his life, and refusing to be rounded up.

            I’m not saying I somehow grew up with a Thing about honesty, I’m just not… not saying that…

            1. amoeba*

              Hah. Guess it is indeed easier to be precise in the metric system – you can just say you’re 1.78 or 1.84 m or whatever you actually are (and people do, mostly! Although rounding up to 1,80 is apparently still a thing, seems to be some kind of magic line in the heads of a lot of men?)

        2. ariel*

          Ohhhh this explains why a guy in college told me, ADAMANTLY, that there was no way I was 5’11 (okay, 10.5″ but come on)

    2. Student*

      I legit need the XS gloves. It is usually a brutal war to convince anyone with purchasing power to buy them for me. Even when I put on the “small” gloves to demonstrate that there’s a half-inch or more of excess finger dangling past my stubby finger tips. I’ve had to buy my own on several occasions to do work safely – and you can bet that I do NOT share when I have to shell out for my own safety supplies.

      1. MsM*

        I didn’t even know they existed. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen small gloves before. I’ve always just had to make do with medium.

      2. Missa Brevis*

        Thankfully I’ve never had to fight to get access to extra small gloves – actually I have the opposite problem at my current job. Someone decided that there needs to be a box of each size at each workstation in our lab, regardless of how many people wear them, so there are literally dozens of open boxes of xs gloves around, most of which have been open for two or three years, because the small handful of us who wear extra smalls don’t go through them that fast. One problem … nitrile doesn’t last forever, especially exposed to light and heat, so the gloves in these boxes are starting to lose structural integrity, and I go through 8 or 10 gloves trying to find two that don’t have holes in them. Almost every single time I have to put gloves on. It drives me batty.

      3. Lady_Lessa*

        If you think that getting the right size is hard, try convincing a safety manager that you NEED latex gloves, and not the more chemically resistant nitrile type.
        Nitrile makes my hands almost lobster red.

        Grin, where I currently work, we have both latex allergic and nitrile allergic folks. So we get L and XL in nitrile and M in latex. (I’m the only medium wearer)

        1. JustaTech*

          For a while my lab had latex extra small gloves for the coworker who needed the extra stretch to get the glove on over her bad hand, blue nitrile extra small gloves for another coworker who insisted that the blue ones fit better than the purple ones (they’re a different brand, so I guess so?), and then the standard purple small/medium/large purple nitrile gloves.

          The only problem we ever had was when people would come visit and the only extra-large gloves we had was an ancient box of latex gloves that were beyond crunchy, because everyone in our lab had relatively small hands, so we never used the extra-larges.

          One time someone decided that we should try some cheaper gloves, and sent along a few boxes to test. The gloves had the shortest cuffs I’ve ever seen – they basically stopped at your palm. Those were sent right back with a note – “Unsafe”.

          Of all the places to not be cheap, gloves are at the top of my list.

      4. Nightengale*

        I had that problem when working in labs and later hospitals. If I did find sterile gloves my size I would keep them in my pocket because who knows if there would be a pair available when I had to do a procedure.

        Although the worst was scrubs. I had to pin up a good 8 inches of small scrub pants and the tops fell open pretty indecently leading to more safety pins. The hospital where I trained was in Philadelphia and they said even if I bought my own extra small, I would never get them back in a reasonable time because the laundry went to Boston. For those who don’t know, Philadelphia pretty much has a hospital on every street corner so the idea that laundry was sent out of state was really funny. SoI just resigned myself to several months of safety pins and only wore scrubs when required.

        I still work in health care but in a field where I can wear my own clothing, which fits, and rarely need gloves.

        1. Lava Lamp (she/her)*

          Oh it’s not just Philly that does that. I work in hospital laundry, in Denver. We do stuff all the way up to Cheyenne Wyoming.

        2. Chas*

          I’m fortunate to work in a lab where I can just order whatever safety stuff I need, because no where ever has a lab coat that can fit me before I join (I’m somewhat overweight and busty, so I find anything smaller than a 48 inch labcoat tends to pop open if I breath or bend at all.)

          We did have an awkward time when I got a new master’s project student who needed XL gloves (He could squeeze into a large, but it would take a good couple of minutes for him to get his hand in them, definitely not safe), which I ordered immediately but then had to wait ages for because of post-Covid supply issues. We had to wander other labs trying to find some XL glove users we could borrow them from.

      5. AnonyNurse*

        Same!! I actually now use it as a proxy for how a job is going to go. If you don’t promptly get my gloves that fit my hands so I can, you know, start IVs and stuff… what am I doing here? I also find it annoying that I have child size hands. I didn’t choose it. See also: shoe covers as tripping hazards. Failing N95 fit tests til you give me a size small.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a boss who had the opposite problem with shoe covers – he was a tall guy but he also chose to wear these really fashionable shoes with really, really long toes, so he had the *worst* time getting shoe covers on. He would tear like three or four every time we went in the clean facility.
          Sometimes I wondered why he didn’t just wear sneakers on days we were going in the lab, since he knew the facility couldn’t order bigger shoe covers, but I think he liked making a big deal about not being able to fit.

          (He also like to tear off his gowning like the Hulk when we were done.)

      6. kjinsea*

        When I needed welding gloves, even finding small welding gloves was very hard. I finally got smalls special ordered….and then they were big on my hands. They did not make extra small.

    3. dot*

      Ugh latex gloves (and gloves in general) are so frustrating for me as a woman who apparently has probably average width hands and short fingers? I use latex gloves for cooking sometimes (handling meat or hot or acidic food as I have sensitive skin). Medium gloves are comfortable but I end up with an inch of space at the fingertips. Small gloves fit my finger length great, but are almost impossible to fit on the rest of my hands.

      1. JSPA*

        If it’s thin laptop latex gloves, you can often double them up or scrunch m on the proximal or medial phalanges (unless the fingers are tight on the circumference) to take up the slack. Doesn’t work so well if you have to keep things sterile because it’s a lot of fiddling. Works better on the glove that goes on first, so make that your dominant hand.

      2. Orv*

        I have long palms and short fingers, so I feel your pain. I still haven’t found a set of motorcycle gloves that fit right.

      3. AFac*

        I’m apparently the exact opposite: long fingers on small hands. Small gloves fit the circumference of my fingers but not the length as the finger part ends a half inch or so before my fingers do. Mediums fit my finger length but are so loose I lose dexterity.

        Which I choose depends on what I’m doing. High precision work? Smalls. Long procedures? Mediums.

        1. Grim*

          I have the same problem! Regular old gloves don’t matter so much and I’ll happily wear a medium, but for sterile gloves a size 6 1/2 is way too short in the fingers, whereas a size 7 is long enough in the fingers but baggy around the hands.

      4. Filosofickle*

        I love accidentally stumbling on something I didn’t know to be grateful for — I have proportional hands, yay! I don’t love that my hands aren’t small (absolutely nothing about me is dainty) but hey my finger-to-palm ration is apparently average. I’ll take it.

      5. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I have the same issue. Once many years ago my husband had custom leather gloves made for me. They were so lovely. I almost cried when I lost them. They were they only gloves I’ve ever owned that properly fit my hands.

    4. Spooky Spiders*

      I am a Tall woman with large hands, working at a clinic where we kept medium and large gloves on hand (3-4 men the entire 5 years I worked there, 2 of whom owned the place). My boss, for some reason, decided I needed small gloves — he was the only person there taller than me! I wore them for one task and never touched the box again.

      1. Nonanon*

        I had the opposite problem with one of my colleagues who would wear gloves the next size DOWN, because he thought that it gave him “more precision.”

        1. Kara*

          They do, though? Gloves that are tight on your fingers, particularly at the tip of the finger, give you a lot more dexterity than gloves with more slack in the fit.

    5. Zona the Great*

      In an office where we had to wear work gloves, they had to special order mine and then they were forever labeled as “Circus Freak” in the size index. Very rude.

    6. MigraineMonth*

      Ugh, I worked in a restaurant where one of the guys needed XL gloves but the owner wouldn’t buy any, so he just never used gloves while handling the food.

      That was actually one of the “smaller” issues at that place, I have no idea how it ever passed a food safety inspection.

      1. Phryne*

        Wearing gloves or not has little relation to hygiene in food prep, what matters is behaviour. Well washed hands are fine. Good hygiene means taking care to not cross contaminate, and if you put on gloves and touch your nose they are just as dirty as when you do that with your bare hands. There have even been studies that suggest that not wearing gloves is better for hygiene because if people can feel what they touch they are much more aware of it and tend to wash their hands often, whereas people with gloves on will use the same pair for much too long.

        1. JustaTech*

          I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen and while the staff was amazing with hand hygiene (I told one cook that he washed his hands like a nurse), some of the other volunteers were frankly horrifying.

          I watched one guy (the lead of a group of volunteers from a company you’ve bought from) stop cutting raw chicken, stick his chicken-y gloved hand in his pocket, pull out his phone, take a picture, stick the phone back in his pocket and go to touch the chicken again.
          I stopped him and told him to change his gloves. He was super confused until I explained that he’d just gotten raw chicken germs all over his phone and now was going to get phone germs on the chicken.
          “If you want to take pictures, take your gloves off first.”

        2. planetmort*

          My MIL does this with gloves. Somehow in her head the gloves are magically sterile at all times, while her actual hands are magically filthy at all times. It’s very frustrating.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Gloves aren’t required for food prep cleanliness and don’t really do anything to improve it.

        Basically, if you’re washing your hands properly and at the right times, your hands are already sanitary. If you’re not handwashing properly, gloves won’t fix it.

        Furthermore, gloves can discourage people from handwashing as frequently because they make it more of a hassle. You have to throw away your old gloves and get new ones every time you wash your hands since washing with gloves on is ineffective/unsanitary. That roughly doubles the amount of time it takes to wash your hands, and means you’ll go through a LOT of gloves! So (consciously or not) people often reduce the frequency of handwashing in response.

    7. Dr. Doll*

      this made both me and my husband, who is smaller than I am, roar with laughter. he is a secure man.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      That one BLEW my mind. I know that humans will compete over any damn thing, but wow.

    9. Hats Are Great*

      The most amazing story of marketing genius that I know is:

      Male external catheters are like a condom that goes over the penis and you pee into it (instead of the catheter being threaded up the urethra).

      Men will REFUSE TO BE CATHETERIZED if they find out it’s a size “small” catheter. They will reject necessary, even lifesaving, medical care if it requires an external catheter labeled “small.”

      So male external catheters are sold in sizes large, medium, and “sport.”

      1. AnReAr*

        NASA reportedly had to do a similar thing with the first astronauts and their pee socks. IIRC they ended up just vanity sizing everything one larger.

    10. Paul Z*

      I have never been able to find gloves (rubber or otherwise) that actually fit me. I have very narrow hands, and my pinky fingers are abnormally short compared to the rest of my hand. (Hold your fingers out straight: normally your pinky reaches a little past the last knuckle on your ring finger. Mine aren’t even close.) So if most of my fingers fit, there’s 1/2 inch of empty glove on the end of my pinky, just waiting to be caught in things. If the pinky is short enough, the rest of my fingers are horribly squished. I usually end up in the L range so that my fingers fit, and just try to avoid getting the pinky flap caught in whatever I’m doing. Bodies are weird and everyone’s is different!

      1. Not Baby Mice*

        Friend!! I also have short pinkies! Mine is because my palm has a dramatic downward slope where the pinky joins though, rather than the pinky itself being short and I have the same problem with gloves

    11. Bitte Meddler*

      I use nitrile gloves at home for all sorts of things: mixing up meatloaf ingredients with my hands, rubbing a spicy mix on the outside of a roast, cutting off finger tips to apply transdermal meds to my cat’s ear, applying topical meds on my own body, eating an orange that I’m peeling and ripping apart with my hands, using a can of spray paint, mucking around under my car’s hood to check the fluid levels, etc., etc., etc.

  3. Donkey Hotey*

    Re: #8

    Old Old Job had a similar fork scarcity problem along with the related grumpiness. I decided to do something about it: I became the fork fairy. About once a quarter, I went to the local goodwill-equivalent and bought a dozen forks for under $2. I’d surreptitiously add them to the utensil drawer and all was right in the break room for another few months. Did it cost me $8 a year? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Did anyone ever wonder where a dozen mismatched forks came from? No.

    1. Pieforbreakfast*

      My husband worked in a shop that regularly was short of forks and spoons, we donated what we had thrifted for our wedding (about 50 of each). These disappeared shockingly quickly and it turned out the office manager was throwing out anything left in the break room sink instead of washed and put away.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’m guessing they got fed up with being expected to wash other people’s dirty dishes at the end of every day.

          1. JustaTech*

            When my great uncle was serving in WWII (engineer) he caught some private doing that, except he was doing it with the silver spoons in the castle where they were “staying”. So he made the private go fish all the utensils out of the river and filled out the paperwork to take them home. And now they’re my wedding silver.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I do this. I go to the goodwill and buy any random forks. Costs me about 5 dollars a semester and makes sure there are forks in the break room. Mostly, because I use them. So far, no one has expressed concern or worry about the random appearance of forks.

    3. For Forks Sake*

      Forks seem to vanish in my office as well.
      But without fail we always have at a crapload of butter knives, spoons and for some strange reason 30 creme brulee ramekins.

      1. M*

        Forks vanish because they’re the cutlery item most likely to be used with disposable crockery. You buy a salad, you use a fork to eat it, you throw out the container the salad came in, forgetting the fork is still resting in the bowl. You don’t do it (as much) with knives, even if you’re buying lunches that need them, because knives rest less easily in a bowl, so you’re more conscious of their presence, and less likely to throw them out.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The UK equivalent is teaspoons, but mercifully they are sold separately from dinner sets, often a pack of four for as little as £1.

      That said, at OldJob I got fed up of mug arguments and bought eight cheap identical mugs in the most popular size. And come to think of it I did the same at church when there was one big mug and lots of “two gulps” mugs.

      I may have a tea problem.

    5. Ariaflame*

      There are actual papers on the disappearance of teaspoons from common rooms.
      Though the ones from Bali with faces on the handles tended to stick around longer.

      I just bought myself a cheap cutlery set and always have something on hand.

  4. I'm just here for the cats!*

    The gloves. There’s so much that can be said here that is NSFW!

    1. WeirdChemist*

      I remember hearing somewhere that NASA had to change the size names for some sort of “lower body” equipment to make the smallest size called “large” etc because too many men were requesting the wrong size lmao. Maybe just an apocryphal internet story but definitely in the same vein as the gloves haha

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I’ve definitely heard the same story. I’m pretty sure it was in Michael Collins’s book but can’t swear to that.

      2. Jackie*

        In the ‘80s when I worked as a med-surg floor nurse we used condom catheters for the men with incontinence. You rolled the condom on, and at the base was a double sided sticky tape that peeled off. So basically you glued the condom catheter to the p3nis. (wow had know clue about that P word autocorrect! lol). A hole at the tip was connected to drainage tubing into a bag.

        I can report with absolute accuracy that the sizes were marked medium, large, and…drumroll…STANDARD.

        1. amoeba*

          Hah, yes. Also for regular condoms – you can easily find normal and XL in the supermarket. In case you actually want the smaller ones because, you know, you’d like ideal fit and actually would like safe contraception – you have to order them online. Probably because all the men refuse to buy them.
          The ones you do find online are also not called “small” but “slim”.

          Honestly, I wish they just came in, like, sizes “4-8 or something else nondescriptive. And all men would undergo a course or something to find their size.

    2. Anonomatopoeia*

      There really is. I sort of wanted this person to start telling the men, “You know, no one here is concerned about how big your ahem hands are, Willie,” every time they insisted.

    3. Knighthope*

      “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo” by Nicholas de Monchaux, describes vanity sizing in the development of the Apollo spacesuit.

  5. A (Former) Library Person*

    The thing about #4 is that the employee isn’t necessarily incorrect, especially if these PDFs come from subscriptions. I’m sure nearly everyone here has had the experience of discovering a website gone missing seemingly overnight, a corrupted file that will only run on an obsolete computer program, or a musical artist or film suddenly removed from their streaming service of choice. This is a huge issue for digital archivists and a really interesting field of study.

    Now, does that mean it’s appropriate or a good use of company resources to print *everything*? No, of course not (and especially if the collection hasn’t been culled down), but as someone who still makes a point of purchasing physical media for similar reasons, I have a lot of sympathy here.

    Lots of copies keeps stuff safe, everyone.

    1. Professional_Lurker*

      “Lots of copies keeps stuff safe, everyone.” — I am a Digital Archivist and I Approve This Message.

    2. e271828*

      Strongly agree!! If those pdfs are of articles and not just memos or some quotidian admin bulletins,* and the articles are needed to document or back up assertions underlying your work (say, in a research lab), they should be printed out, given covers with the biblio info for citations, and shelved.

      Anything you have online access to can be made to disappear.

      *And even admin bulletins can be called upon years later to document a policy change or implementation that turns out to have unforeseen implications…

    3. Iris Eyes*

      And with all the streaming subscription issues, you never know when the publications from said subscriptions might not be in the archive because someone decided to remove them or paywall them behind the ultra premium subscription service. I’d probably be more selective than “print everything” but the whole internet need not disappear for certain content to be lost.

      1. ceiswyn*

        I bought and paid for a bunch of music on Google Play (I think that’s what it was called, it’s early over here). Then Google switched to YouTube music, and removed Play entirely.
        It’s a good thing I downloaded and backed up those tracks, because my access to them just went *poof*.

    4. RegBarclay*

      Looks like my comment got eaten, but YES! My employer deleted a bunch of internal documents that they had promised would be kept safe because they are needed now and then. Supposedly we could ask a certain department for them when needed, but years later it turns out they deleted most of it that was more than five years old. So the manager that printed everything out doesn’t look so paranoid now.

      And tbh management lost a lot of trust there.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        We actually have a policy where I work that requires us to destroy certain types of files five years after the end of the job to which they were originally related. Management wants to be able to plausibly claim that “records no longer exist” when unreasonable auditors try to push for things that are well before the timeframe they are supposed to be auditing.

    5. Anonomatopoeia*

      When I started the job I still have, my predecessor had pretty much quit in a huff for reasons that (as I was told them, anyway) were so silly I can’t imagine a grownup living this way unless they are on a reality television series. I believe what I was told, though, because…

      On her way out, she destroyed all the copies of everything she used to do her job. She left the files in place, labeled, but removed the content of them and password-protected editing the files, so I had dozens of .doc files named like, supply-orders.doc or timesheet-rules.doc, but the files themselves had a single space and no other content, which were not removable (password). Same deal with paper files — left the binders, and the labeled tabs, removed the content. She didn’t destroy stuff that she just had one of many copies (I guess what would be the point?) but everything specific to the job? Kapow. The literal only unhosed unique file she left me was a word doc, not protected in any way, with all her shopping passwords (website, plaintext password).

      1. Lurker*

        Whoa. That is an impressive amount of work. I’m kind of in awe, but also horrified.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I have a friend who worked in an IT department that probably should have had more oversight, because the department head became paranoid that his subordinates were after his job. By the time the board arranged a meeting with him he had 1) fired his entire department, 2) deleted all the documentation and 3) quit.

        My friend was brought back as a consultant to rewrite the destroyed documentation.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Archives assistant–at a medical school library, where everything current is an online journal–here: The Internet is probably not going away but subscription material? Shaky ground. We have to have a policy of not printing everything, though, or we’d lose our minds and fill up our precious shelf space.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        I spent ages – two years? – at the National Library of Medicine History of Medicine division a while back doing research

        In the main reading room were people who had a business literally getting copies of articles. Some were old, yes, but others not so much. It’s been a long time but I suspect that’s still a thing.

        1. cabbagepants*

          My husband did this once at his former job. It was kind of an exciting mystery/treasure hunt! His client was in an industry that had been excoriated by an expose published in a trade journal in the early 1960s. This expose is still very relevant to the industry, but finding the full text was startlingly difficult.

      2. Ariaflame*

        I remember reading something that said due to some journals folding there’s some doi articles that are not available any more. If you are lucky you might be able to contact the author or go somewhere like scihub.

    7. Law librarian*

      Most of the times the subscriptions have license terms which specifically prohibit downloading or archiving the entire database though – and a lot of the time there’s an extra cost if you want physical copies you can keep forever. Do I think this so stupid? Yes. Do I think it’s a huge problem with digital subscriptions? Yes. But like it or not it’s part of the contract thee business has signed, and large database providers are starting to get difficult about noticing when someone is systematically downloading everything, or asking for proof you’ve deleted their material as per the contract terms when you finally cancel the gigantic subscription nobody ever thought you’d cancel.

      1. Offline*

        This was my post and this was exactly the situation at hand. Just saying “PDFs” might have been misleading but I was trying to be vague. This person was printing, saving, and sharing copies in many cases, in direct violation of ToS

      2. INTPLibrarian*

        Exactly. It’s crazy, but still almost certainly a violation of the license.

        Truthfully, it’s unlikely to happen, BUT if the provider found out the institution could lose access to ALL of that provider’s titles.

    8. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      The other librarians and archivists have it right – Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe and subscriptions aren’t forever.

      However, if you have shelves and shelves of PDFs how are they organized so you can find the right PDF when you need it?

      1. MassMatt*

        Alphabetical order? By subject, with labels? Chronologically?

        Shouldn’t knowing how to organize materials be in the wheelhouse for a librarian or archivist?

        People have been organizing information for millennia.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          This is unnecessarily antagonistic. Presumably RetiredAcademicLibrarian, true to their name, understands that there are many different ways of organizing information.

    9. Gracely*


      Fun story: to make space for a pet project of our higher admin, we tossed almost our entire print periodicals collection, because “we have access to most of this electronically.” We are talking 15+ full dumpsters of items. Now, some of it absolutely needed to go; we’re not a depository, we are definitely not the only ones with print copies of these periodicals, etc.


      The next year, our budget got slashed so dramatically that we barely have access to anything now. Electronic access shouldn’t be pricey, but it ABSOLUTELY is for libraries. A print copy of something costs whatever it costs once, plus the space it takes up. An electronic subscription costs every.single.year.forever.

      If you don’t own the physical copy, you don’t own it. Period.

    10. ampersand*

      I’m reminded of the Progressive commercial where the guy prints out his insurance quotes to compare them and the Progressive agent says, “We don’t need to print the internet.”

      That one always makes me laugh. :)

      Point taken, though: maybe there are occasions where it makes sense to print the internet!

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        Sometimes I like to imagine future historians poring over the pages of fanfic some middle schooler printed out to read on the bus post-internet but pre-smartphone then never bothered to throw away, fascinated by the insight this rare preserved ephemera gives them into our culture.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          That’s another sad thing- there is so much fanfic and such just gone. Some was trash, but there was a ton of well-written stuff just gone. If things aren’t in fanfiction .net or Archive of Our Own, it’s basically gone.

          1. Potoooooooo*

            The Organization for Transformative Works is my one charity that I consistently support given my current budget. Running AO3 cannot be cheap in the slightest, and that’s just in terms of hardware and network access, since pretty much everything else is volunteers.

            Big shout out to the people making it all work behind the scenes.

        2. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

          I’m in this comment and I don’t like it, especially because I came across a folder that still had some of it in it!

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Patent offices, necessarily at the bleeding edge of innovation, regularly print bits of the internet!

    11. memes, jack*

      Yeah I think we’re firmly in a post-“free unlimited digital storage” world where media that someone else controls access to can shut that access off. Having a copy that you control is an awesome preventative measure.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Apple did that some time ago. Back before streaming subscriptions were a thing and you could buy movies and TV episodes from iTunes. I had a lot that I bought over the years, entire seasons of shows (came out to cheaper than cable, despite the per-episode price). Slowly forgot about them after I watched them. Then about six or so years ago, I go look at my library on my iPad and I’m like that’s odd, I was sure I had more than three episodes of this random show. Dug through my old backup drives and dusted off an iTunes folder backup and yup, dozens of shows I purchased are just no longer in my Apple library.

        Similar thing happened when Google Play Music shut down and they all transferred over to Youtube Music. Albums I purchased in the past were no longer available due to changes in rights since then.

        1. SarahKay*

          Yikes. Suddenly I feel very glad that I’ve stuck to DVDs rather than streaming or buying electronic copies (aka paying for a licensed copy which can be removed) when I want to watch things.

        2. MassMatt*

          I have steadfastly refused to get rid of my CD collection for exactly this reason. Just about everyone told me it was a waste of space since “it’s all online anyway”. I did concede that I no longer needed jewel cases, and converted everything to a set of 12 large binders, but the CD’s are not going.

          I had the last laugh when first, Napster had to pull back, and then when iTunes disappeared. Not to mention, even in iTunes’ heyday, $0.99 per song got pricey. And if your tastes run far from very mainstream acts (say, Scandinavian death metal, or zydeco, Afrobeat, or reggae other than Bob Marley) or even the non-hit songs by well known acts you were always SOL.

          Media companies (not just Apple, though they’re the most prominent recent example) have long relied on planned obsolescence. But previously it was up to the consumer to decide whether to upgrade from vinyl or videotape to CD and DVD; you still owned the old media, and much of it would last lifetimes with a little care.

          Now, digital libraries kept in the cloud are mostly at the mercy of whomever owns them. If a media owner wants to pull their stuff from Spotify or Netflix and go to another platform, or (shudder, start yet another subscription platform) they can. Likewise, if rights are in dispute things can go out of print and not reappear except in illegal bootlegs of extremely variable quality.

          I know there is a project to archive books, etc digitally in a format that will last but I question whether that’s going to be feasible in the extremely long term. Floppy discs came in and out of vogue in my lifetime, but what about all these digital databases–are people 500 years from now going to be able to read or watch this stuff?

    12. Lisa*

      Yes. If you don’t physically have a copy, either a hard copy or a digital copy on media you physically control and back up, it can disappear at any time. I make a lot of recipes I find online, and I learned the hard way to print out a copy of anything I really like and put it in a binder, because the next time I go to open the page it might be gone.

    13. Prof*

      Right…but you don’t print it, you just save the file on the computer, preferably with something like Mendeley or Zotero….

    14. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Definitely this. Dover Publications used to have a site where you could buy electronic versions of their books. Then one day they decided to shutter it. You couldn’t access your purchases anymore, even if you had an account on the main site. They insisted they gave everyone ample notice, but as someone who had spent gobs of money on the e-books, that was totally bull, unless they erased all emails from everyone’s inbox and took down all their social media posts as well. Some of their digital titles were only published on that site with no print versions ever made so when the site was shuttered, those titles essentially disappeared.

      Fortunately, I had backups of most of my purchases and for those I didn’t have backups of, I accidentally discovered someone at Dover forgot to shut down the beta version of that site and it had full functionality so I was able to log in and download my purchases. Not everyone was so lucky. I’m still salty about that whole ordeal and it’s why I have multiple backups of digital media purchases.

    15. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

      I was literally up late last night because I was fretting over all the obscure and indie media that would be lost forever if there was a catastrophic infrastructure failure. Archivists are important!

    16. LAM*

      I do records management and archives and onboard new employees. It’s amazing how much some people really feel the need to tell me they print everything and put in binders. In case my workflow of backing things up fails. Because that happened to them in 1998. Sure that’s happened to me, but that’s why you put safeguards in place. To mitigate risk.

      It has given me nightmares, but instead of this hybrid middle ground, I’m trying to get push the energy to go toward putting better digital preservation and access points in place. But it’s records we create or receive rather than journal articles.

  6. logicbutton*

    #4 You know what, though, you never do know when the information resources will decide to shut down and take all the information you paid to access with them.

  7. RegBarclay*

    I confess I’m on the side of the person who printed everything in #4. We had a manager that printed out certain internal company documents whenever they updated, because sometimes we need to refer back to the outdated ones. I thought that was excessive because we could always email the department that held the outdated versions and ask for a copy. However, several years and a merger later, that department seem to have deleted most of the stuff that’s more than a couple years old, so when we need it we’re out of luck and it’s no longer available.

    Nowadays you can PDF instead of wasting paper, of course, but the point still stands.

  8. Pretty as a Princess*

    #7 is clearly in the National Guard, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Didn’t it come out a few years ago that some of the defense and other stuff are still on old floppy disks?

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        “some” lolololol

        There are decades-old production systems still running all in COBOL….

        1. Phony Genius*

          Reminds me of my old college computer center. A professor came in and asked “do you have anything that will read this?” and held up an 8-inch floppy disk. No, we did not have any such equipment.

          1. nona*

            And even if you did, what are the chances that the data (stored magnetically, right?) is still uncorrupted after all these years?

      2. Nonanon*

        I was doing my annual IT mandated training, and one of the questions was “according to the training materials, defense departments have the most up-to-date cybersecurity,” or something along those lines. I LAUGHED at the BLATANTLY false information, because there’s no way the floppy disks currently securing US nuclear secrets are the most up-to-date cybersecurity.

        1. Rat*

          I don’t know, trying to find a 3.5 floppy drive for my mother’s thesis from the 80s is pretty dang good security.

          1. SarahKay*

            That’s what I was thinking. About 15 years ago I bought a desktop computer from a custom-build site, and added on a 3.5″ floppy drive option for only a couple of pounds. They were almost-but-not-quite defunct, but I had some stuff on 3.5″ floppies and at £2, why not.
            A year or so ago I was asked to approve a requisition for work to buy the same item (we support some very old systems), now costing nearly 150 pounds! They are, apparently, now very hard to get hold of, and correspondingly expensive.

    2. Retired CPA*

      I heard the IRS needs that additional appropriation to upgrade from DOS. Legacy software, antiquated hardware, literal tons of paper returns…

  9. raincoaster*

    I got a job editing an in-house newsletter. Apparently the office secretary had thought she was a shoe-in for the job, and was extremely miffed to lose out. She was also responsible for office supplies etc. her revenge was to give me an ancient computer with no mouse, and absolutely refuse to order me a mouse for it! The manager was no help, saying that ordering a mouse would “hurt her feelings.” Somehow I managed to turn it on and, with copious use of literal cut and paste and stick glue, produce a passably designed newsletter. By the third edition she gave up and got me a mouse. But I never got my messages again (she was erasing them).

  10. Anonomatopoeia*

    “The morning shift librarian wasn’t fooled and found the second stapler hidden in a drawer in the later shift librarian’s workstation.”

    I believe this with my entire soul, because this isn’t my workplace but wow could it be.

    Also, I mean, a staple remover kind of does look like an early prototype of the fang-thing tool Loki uses to do bad things to a dude’s eyeball in the first Avengers movie, so…

    1. Fleur-de-Lis*

      There are whole dissertations that could be written about the different passive-aggressive wars that library workers have over supplies, devices, chairs… My predecessor replaced the office chairs at the high-top workstations at the reference desk because they were ratty and pinched fingers, and one librarian INSISTED on saving one of them because she simply CANNOT sit in the exact same model of chair, but newer. The seat cover is patched in multiple places and it looks like shit. I can’t wait for her to retire so I can finally trash the damned thing. She literally drags it out of her office for each of her desk shifts and it just makes me cringe every time. But I cannot get rid of it or she would probably file a grievance against me….

  11. Heidi*

    “The morning shift librarian wasn’t fooled and found the second stapler hidden in a drawer in the later shift librarian’s workstation.” This is a place that needs a copier that also staples. Yikes. Although, on some level, this has got to be about more than the stapler, right?

    1. Magenta Sky*

      When the only thing you have any control over is meaningless office supplies, that’s what you go with. It’s a sign of a dysfunctional work place is so many other ways, that people feel that powerless.

      Or maybe they’re just crazy.

      1. Quinalla*

        This is definitely a thing – the smaller the kingdom (real or perceived) the tighter folks cling to their power.

      2. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Can confirm, that particular library was supremely dysfunctional. There’s so many more stories but tales of The Stapler were really my absolute favorite for how petty it all was.

    2. Consonance*

      My first job as a reference librarian, I had control of a stapler. Which I happily handed to anyone who needed it! Until one day a student asked if they could take the stapler to hang something up (“Sure! Here you go!”) and promptly walked out of the building with it and never returned. It was an odd conversation to have with my boss when she came to relieve me: “Sorry, but I seem to have accidentally given permission for someone to steal the stapler. Not sure what happened there!”

    3. TLC Squeak*

      I misread the paragraph before and thought someone had cut the stapler in two. Like Solomon.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “That tape hider was absolutely diabolical.”

      Yes! That belongs in the Machiavellian category as well! So many questions….why did she hoard the tape, what was her evil plan, did it work? Again: why????

      She was clearly a sociopath but I want more answers!!

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Eh I had a parent and a boss like this. They secretly enjoyed being the cause of chaos, watching people twist themselves into frenzies and not knowing what’s going on, and setting up people to fail.

        It’s such an ugly quality.

        1. Dragon Toad*

          See, I also kinda enjoy being the cause of chaos and watching people get into a frenzy. But I don’t hide required equipment, my way would be doing something like sneaking into the office after closing during a week off and hiding a hundred large paperclips with googly eyes and funny messages attached.

          It was glorious, the openers the next morning blamed the closers from the night before and vice versa, and they were finding those Clippy’s for WEEKS.

      2. MissGirl*

        Right! Did she enjoy watching the department descend into chaos? Was she punishing them? Did she want to create chaos to be a savior but it got out of hand and quit to escape? I need answers.

      3. Chris*

        This has actually given me new perspective on an odd situation at work with a supervisor who never does much but is quick to point fingers…

      4. Tape OP*

        As I recall, this elaborate plan to sew chaos turned out to be intended to 1.) hide an affair with a coworker and 2.) help her favorite supervisor take over the department. Neither of these things actually worked. #2 was a very naive goal because workplace hierarchy is not typically democracy-based and you just can’t get your friends promoted by trashtalking the grandbosses unless the workplace is truly dysfunctional on every level. And goal #1 didn’t work because, while she was trying to hide the affair, her partner was bragging. And she left her husband for him soon after anyway, so I’m not sure anyone really thought through these schemes.

  12. I should really pick a name*

    #2 should have kept the box from the XL gloves and put the L gloves in it :P

    1. Goldenrod*

      “#2 should have kept the box from the XL gloves and put the L gloves in it :P”

      OMG, this would have totally worked. (But I would never have thought of it!)

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        You would have to give the one guy who really did need them a box of real XL gloves and tell him to keep them hidden.

  13. LostCommenter*

    I worked in a place where teaspoons apparently were taken home. it was so frustrating to me one morning as an avid caffeine junkie that I couldn’t make myself coffee because there were no spoons to add coffee or sugar and to stir, I even checked in the kitchen sink.

    I ended up losing my last semblance of sanity, got in my car and went out to our country’s version of the dollar store and bought the cheapest ugliest teaspoons that were slightly oversized compared to regular teaspoons. And I bought 50 of them and dumped them in the tearoom after washing them. They were known company wide as LostCommenter spoons as the stories spread about the sudden influx of spoons. There were only 50 employees at that location too.

    I ended up liking them so much though I bought some for our home as well. I never expensed them, I wasn’t willing to fight that battle as I didn’t get permission and thought it well worth the cost of being able to make myself coffee whenever I needed some.

    1. Ama*

      Oh man, I completely forgot about the time they cleaned the elevator shaft at my workplace where there was a staff cafeteria in the basement — and we suddenly got an answer to “where are all the utensils going?” Apparently a lot of people dropped things when they tried to carry their lunch back up to their desk.

  14. pennyforum*

    #9 Was this person just looking for drama or what was the story? Everything else I can turn my head squint and see a bizarre rationale, but this one is just… Odd. On the spectrum of human oddness but also…. odd.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “On the spectrum of human oddness but also…. odd.”

      I know! The ending was so absolutely creepy, like a Twilight Zone ending. Blood curdling!

  15. Goldenrod*

    #10 – It’s been so hard to EVER get rid of a fax machine in places where I’ve worked, years & years after they have been obsolete. There is always someone who CLINGS to it.

    1. Ashley*

      I can’t tell you the last time I was given a non-spam fax, but I am still routinely required to provide a fax number on many quasi government forms.
      I will occasionally send a fax when someone wants me to sign a form with the company credit card number.

    2. Phony Genius*

      I was in a doctor’s office once, waiting for my appointment, when one of the reception staff lit into another who had, or was trying to, get rid of the fax machine due to obsolescence. She told her that state law required certain paperwork to be faxed, not e-mailed, so they had to continue using the fax machine, despite it being old technology. (She may have been right at the time, as secured document transfer was a relatively new thing, but the woman being yelled at had a lot of experience despite being a recent hire to this office.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A month ago I learned that my doctor’s office cannot accept or send email but they are allowed to accept faxes. The receptionist said “We’re told it’s a privacy issue.” She was a perfect illustration for “long-suffering”.

        1. Florence Reese*

          This is honestly still true, but it’s silly anyway because VIRTUAL FAXES EXIST. Every medical office will have A fax machine, but it should be one that can scan to a secure virtual server, and staff should be able to send faxes via that server from their own computers similar to email (or even more easily, like sending directly from the EMR).

          Like it’s so easy. Please just use RightFax like the rest of the industry, stubborn-ass physicians everywhere. And for any non-medical offices that have progressed less than stubborn-ass physicians: how are you managing in this world???

        2. Florence Reese*

          Oop – I meant to also say that sending/receiving PHI via email isn’t inherently forbidden (unless there’s a stricter state than CA somewhere). You *can* send PHI via secure, encrypted email. But fax is safer — and easier, if you use the tools developed to modernize it — between two businesses. I’m sure part of it is tradition, but it really is the most effective option in my experience.

          But with *patients* that’s obviously a huge imposition, because who has a fax machine at home? I wish it made more sense to just have patients email stuff. But there’s such a high chance that they won’t know how or will forget to encrypt every email. And with email, it’s difficult for us to verify that we’re disclosing information to the correct patient and no one else. It just gets messy.

          Offices really should have some sort of patient portal for secure communication both ways (and for all the benefits to patient compliance/education/etc). Unfortunately, that kind of technology can be pretty inaccessible for small or underfunded practices. It sucks because it really hurts the patients most, IMO.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            The medical system I work for uses exclusively e-fax because we’ve had so many issues with our encrypted emails being unable to be opened by the encryption programs in other offices/medical practices. Electronic faxing is just the best secure method we’ve been able to find because we are not going to send anything over an unencrypted email.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            The system currently being rolled out in the NHS is called PATCHS where patients can put in requests for prescriptions, appointments, advice etc through a web form and attach files if appropriate. There are some problems with uptake and accessibility but so far I’ve found it very useful.

    3. Caz*

      At my place of work, it took a new policy, a deadline on enacting that policy, and a commitment to not letting that deadline slip more than a year. We got rid of it in 2018.

    4. It's Marie - Not Maria*

      I recently went through the Physical Qualification Process to work in a very remote part of the world as part of a Government Contact. The Medical Provider absolutely refused to take any information which was not submitted by fax, and most internet fax programs did not work with their fax machines. Thank heavens the Hubs is a small business owner with not one but two working, if antiquated, fax machines!

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      There was mention of a fax at my office recently. I replied, “is the carrier pigeon out sick?”

    6. lilsheba*

      I just had to had a dr office fax blood test orders to a blood lab in the same hospital building because they needed a hard copy for some unknown reason. I spent half an hour on the phone to get that accomplished, a carrier pigeon would have been faster.

    7. Baska*

      Frustratingly, my office needs to have a fax machine. We receive reports from the bank when deposits have been made into our account. About half the “sending” banks do this the civilized way, through an online portal. The other half send faxes. There is no option to use an online portal – it’s faxes or nothing. So if we want to know where our money is coming from, we need to have a fax machine. I’ve heard of fax-to-email services, but for most of those you can’t use an existing number but have to apply for a new one, and I really don’t want to go through the headache of signing up for a new number and transferring everything over. So we keep our fax machine (and paying for the fax line) for the 10-ish bank documents we receive per month. It’s infuriating!

  16. Dadjokesareforeveryone*

    #8 It’s amazing how tiny little issues ovwr silverware can drive people out of their forking minds.

    1. A Significant Tree*

      Happened at several of my workplaces too! Thousands of knives and spoons, zero forks. I once resorted to using plastic knives like chopsticks. That was a mess.

    2. JustaTech*

      In college I once sent out an email to ask (ask!) folks to return the forks they had borrowed from my dorm’s kitchen.
      Apparently the email landed at the exact wrong moment because someone decided that I should be hauled up in front of the disciplinary committee for “attempting to circumvent campus email policies”. I had not, and was not trying to, but it was a complete over response to a single, polite email asking for folks to return the forks they’d borrowed.

  17. Dust Bunny*

    We kept our fax machine for years until we realized we were only using it to send things to one specific patron who refused to switch to email, and to receive mis-sent faxes from several local doctors’ offices (fortunately we’re a secure building and also versed in HIPAA so if they were going to mis-send faxes, we were probably the safest place to receive them). We finally told the patron he’d have to either get email or let us send stuff to his younger, techier wife, because the fax machine died and we didn’t have the budget to replace it (patently untrue, but the whole situation was unreasonable).

    1. Firebird*

      After my divorce, I had to FAX my documents to a military agency to keep my dependent benefits for insurance and pension. I had to go to an office supply store to use their fax machine. This was only 6 years ago and they refused any other method to get them the documentation.

    2. StarTrek Nutcase*

      I worked in a public interest law firm (class action suits against local & state government agencies exclusively) who insisted on using a fax machine to send documents to the court and opposing counsel. This was old school as encryption or e-fax was the standard.

      Then night before a very contested mediation, instead of faxing our firm’s position paper (34 pages) to the mediator as required, the secretary mistakenly faxed it to opposing counsel. (We used 2-digit quick numbers and she used wrong one.) So our attorneys arrived for mediation only to find opposing counsel had spent all night preparing rebuttals. It was catastrophic.

      She was fired and not surprisingly we immediately switched to e-fax.

  18. Frodo*

    From #9: Resentment Festered. This is the most on point sentence I’ve ever read. Bravo.

  19. Paper Plate Demon*

    I very much understand the fork wars. At my last job, missing forks were also treated as evidence of grievous treason against the org, and people were frequently interrogated and publicly shamed.

    I’ll confess to my own contribution towards the mayhem… though I left a while back, I returned for an event recently and stole one of the few remaining forks as an incredibly weak gesture towards “sticking it to the man”. I plan to mount it on my wall like a trophy bass.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Omg, we totally have had fork wars where I work. I even bought a dozen new (cheap) forks to replace the ones that had gone missing. They are gone now, along with even the two spoons that had been holding out. All we are left with are butter knives.

    2. Heather C*

      I was in charge of office supplies at my last job, and I would just buy forks whenever I was at Walmart or Dollarama and expense them. They would go missing within days. Also, anyone who brought their own cutlery would find that they would get stolen from the dish drainer. I think I lost two sets of generic cutlery before I wised up and bought a set of iridescent ones off Amazon. I never lost my own cutlery again.

      One time, a colleague came to my desk with a big bundle, and whispered, “My boyfriend says I have a problem.” In the bundle was about 25 pieces of work cutlery that had accidentally ended up in her kitchen. Most of them were forks.

        1. Mack*

          I’ve brought a fork home by accident before, in a tupperware I hadn’t finished eating out of. It happens.

    3. Chas*

      It’s teaspoons that go missing in our department. Lots of people make tea or coffee in the break room and presumably end up taking the spoon with them when they’re stirring their drink and hurrying back to their office. At one point someone even labelled the teaspoons but it didn’t stop people taking them, so I’ve now got used to pouring out the sugar into the cup and stirring my coffee with a knife instead.

      1. Kit Kendrick*

        One of the excellent skills I learned in Chemistry lab was the technique to rotate a cup of liquid in such a manner that it swirls hard enough to dissolve things but does not overspill the container. I will put milk and sugar in first, agitate until the sugar is mostly dissolved, and then pour the coffee, which finishes the process.

  20. Porch Gal*

    I was once laid off from my job as a phone rep for a large mutual fund company. I was supposed to work thru the end of the week, but I decided to come back that evening and clean out my stuff, and called my boss in the morning to tell her I would not be returning. She totally understood. Then I called a coworker friend to let her know I would not be back. She replied by asking me if she could have my stapler, and telling me someone else had already grabbed my tape dispenser. My chair was still warm and they were picking over and absconding with my office supplies…

    1. SarahKay*

      I had a colleague leave for a new job. On his leaving day we did the usual farewell card and presentation from the site manager and then colleague left, about two hours earlier than normal closing time. I don’t think colleague had even left the car park before someone had swapped their office chair for his (newer) one.

    2. ExitPursuedByABear*

      I feel this! I’m moving departments next week (a good move) and my chair and desk draws have already been laid claim to, long before I’ve even left the team!

    3. AKchic*

      I had that happen at my last federal contract. I had a lovely glow-in-the-dark fish stapler that I’d owned for 20 years. I always brought my own personal supplies with me to my job sites (force of habit after so many years of non-profit).
      While I was off on leave before the contract ended, the mechanics went through my office and took my personal office supplies because they liked them. My fish stapler was a highly coveted item. Granted, my fish stapler has been a coveted item in all of my job sites, but I didn’t think I needed to hide it while I was on leave!
      I actually had to go order a new one because I never got it back!

    4. Antilles*

      Ah yes, the time-honored tradition of immediately taking the good stuff from your departed co-worker’s desk.

    5. Knighthope*

      Part of retiring from public school teaching is bequeathing your office and school supplies to your teacher besties! Recipients are inordinately grateful!

  21. Tiggerann*

    #7 My desktop computer is older and it still reboots. The update utility is completely worthless.

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

      I’m #7. The computer died about six months after I started. I had coaxed it back to life a few times, but it finally just died one day. Fortunately, I had a new computer by then (with a regular 21″ monitor instead of the square one) and had been using both in tandem to convert us over to a new system. Also fortunately, my boss had a target goal of end of the year to get the new system up and running and I said, “I’ll have it done in three months.” I did- and when the computer died after six months, that was good because there was still 2 more months left before the end of the year.

  22. Dorothy Zpornak*

    The whole office in #9 who don’t realize tou can just close a sheet of paper inside a laptop is sending me.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I think the problem is that the paper could fall out or if the laptop is being worked on could get mixed up with other papers.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I know I shouldn’t have to but I’m the person who would go to Costco, buy a giant box of tape, and keep it in my desk to use myself and hand out to people who won my favor.

      I had a job where we used a ton of sticky notes but the company only bought off-brand ones that didn’t stick to anything, so I bought like a 10-pack in a different color and simply had my own supply. If I heard you complaining about the sticky notes and you had not displeased me, you would be gifted a pad of Good Sticky Notes.

      1. Random Dice*

        I don’t understand these adults who can’t go buy their own damn tape if it’s that much of a problem. It’s tape.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          In case I was unclear, that is not my take at all. I feel very strongly that if they need tape their workplace should supply them with tape — it’s tape, and you shouldn’t need to buy your own work supplies.

          I wish I had the determination to stand by my principles but sometimes if the work-supplied thing is crap it’s actually less frustrating to just bring your own, and my tolerance for daily frustration is low.

      2. Chas*

        I usually end up buying packing tape to use at work, because trying to order any stationary from our online system is so hit-and-miss as to whether it will show up, that I often end up running to our campus student store when I need more and my order hasn’t arrived.

        We’re probably going to have an interesting time getting basic supplies soon, because RCUK (the body that funds most of the grants that academic researchers in the UK are paid by) have said that they’re no longer going to allow us to use our grant codes to buy basic supplies (like safety gloves, pens, tissue paper) because they think the Universities should be supplying those as part of their normal operating expenses (which the grant funding also contributes money to) but I’ve seen no evidence that our department is planning to do this anytime soon…

  23. Moose*

    #3. No one should be shouting at anyone ever but as a tall woman with a bum knee who likes to sit and stand during the day, I too would be a devotee of the High Chair. I love a tall desk and a tall chair to match. All praise the High Chair.

  24. Happy*

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

    I’m really curious whether they meant the ENTIRE internet or just some resources on the internet.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I mean…

      If the internet has really disappeared, the world will have much, much bigger problems going on than trying to find an old PDF.

    2. Ashley*

      There is an episode of the IT Crowd where you will learn the internet is just a black box. You must protect that box.

    3. Unlocked memory!*

      Oh goodness, that reminds me of the colleague who argued that we should print out Wikipedia because it could disappear at any moment. 100% true and yet…

    4. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      I work with a librarian and archivist who makes physical copies of physical newspaper clippings, which we already get a subscription to, and her explanation is, “the Cloud isn’t permanent” and thinks that in the catastrophe that would have to occur for us to lose it all, we’ll still be in a position to care about old vanity editorials about some random academic.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      There’s a cable across the floor of the Atlantic which, if cut, could absolutely kill the internet.

  25. Martin Blackwood*

    Someone should have hid Susan’s stapler at some point and shrugged and said “She must’ve brought it home”

  26. Bruce*

    Eyeball embalmer: My best friends as a kid were the local funeral director’s sons, we used to play in the woods by the cemetery (not so much in the cemetery itself). Their parents were good friends with my parents too, they were very nice. The boys never talked about their Dad’s work, and all grew up completely normal (though sadly one was killed in Beirut in the bombing of the Marine barracks).

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      My freshman roommate in college dated a guy who worked for the local eye bank and most of his job was removing eyeballs from cadavers. Unclear whether he used a staple remover.

    2. JustaTech*

      My cousin’s college roommate’s family were funeral directors – lovely people, the Boxwells. They regularly won some kind of prize for “Best Funeral Home Name”.

  27. CzechMate*

    Re # 8 – Today the office manager sent this to the entire building in our shared Google Chat group:

    “I thought we should all have an Easter egg hunt today!

    And the Easter eggs are all the forks, spoons, and water glasses from the kitchen!

    Meanwhile, Fergus is over here eating his yoghurt with a knife.”

    My officemate and I were very upset to realize there was no actual Easter egg hunt.

    1. Non-profit drone*

      But was there at least a Cadbury egg for whoever collected the most utensils?!

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Out of all the comedy gold posted here today, this deadpan response is the thing that made me laugh!

  28. Suzy Q*

    The tape one reminded me of an old lawyer boss, decades ago, who was an asshole in many ways. He thought we (the three secretaries) were using too much tape and therefore, we must be stealing it. So, he locked it up in his desk drawer and we had to go to him and ask for it. What a tool.

  29. Maryann*

    I have a co-worker whose tagline on her email is ‘please consider the environment before printing this email’ -she prints just about every damn email she receives, and keeps it in her work ‘bible’ (which is another story).

    1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      Those signatures- which often feature a big logo with trees and whatnot in my experience- almost ALWAYS stretch out a printed email to a second page for me.

    2. Nanc*

      In the beginning was the [MS] Word [doc attached to an email that must be printed and filed . . . ]

      1. Nanc*

        Rats – submitted too soon!
        Meant to add I think I inherited your co-worker’s Bible when I took over her position. It jammed the shredder.

        1. Binder!*

          I have an office binder because my email starts sending me HOURLY warnings when I cross over 10% usage–not 10% of my allotted memory remaining, 10% of my allotted memory used.
          Last week I had to delete emails from February 2024 in order to quit getting warnings.
          I gave up and printed.
          Most of the emails are short things that would be more work to find if I PDFed them and tried to find a useful name for the file. Things like “Letters relating to Y should be submitted to EMAIL that has no reference to Y or the organization that handles Y.”

          1. TrixM*

            It might be doing that when you cross the threshold when you delete some and then accumulate more than 10%.
            As a former email admin, that notification level is bizarre to me. I suggest not deleting any for a while, then clean up when you’ll remain over the 10% warning threshold after doing so. (Create a temp folder for disposal later if you want to get rid of clutter in the meantime).

            1. Potoooooooo*

              I wonder if it’s something where they meant to have it at 10% remaining, but got the 90/10 split backwards, and nobody has pointed it out to the IT team to fix it.

  30. Alex*

    The fax one reminds me of my coworker who would receive something in email, print it out, and then scan it in order to save it as a file on his computer.

    He was also in charge of training interns. The day when everyone realized what he was doing was the day he was showing the intern how to do this. The intern was trying so hard not to laugh.

    1. Chas*

      The lack of tech-savviness there reminded me of when my boss was trying to make a A0-sized poster in PowerPoint, so needed to make the font size of the text bigger, but somehow didn’t know you can just change the font size in PowerPoint the same way you do in Word. His solution was to type the text he needed out in Word, take a screenshot of it, then post a JPEG of the screenshot into the PowerPoint file and stretch it out until it was big enough for the poster. (Which then meant all the text on the poster looked blurry)

  31. Shandra*

    #10 Fax Machine. Actually, at a past employer I ended up needing a real fax machine when a time-sensitive electronic fax wouldn’t go through to a government agency. Our error message said the agency’s fax wasn’t receiving, but the agency said things were fine on their end.

    My office had dumped its fax machines long before, but thank goodness a local branch office still had theirs. I emailed them the document, and they faxed a physical copy for me.

    Later I learned that our vendor had inadvertently changed a software setting, which blocked all our outgoing faxes. However, the software was interpreting that as an error on the recipient’s end.

  32. Ginger Cat Lady*

    The gloves story is so telling about men and their insecurities!
    And the eyeball embalmer had me laughing pretty hard for a Monday!

  33. Shandra*

    #4 The Missing Internet.

    OT, but physical documents can get lost in company mergers and acquisitions and bankruptcies. Especially documents pre-dating the Internet and PDFs.

    The 70s Scottish pop band The Bay City Rollers, unfortunately lost out on who knows how much in royalties. Their record company Arista was later acquired by Sony, and no one could find a copy of their original Arista contract to determine how to distribute the money.

    There had been interest in making a TV series of The Handmaid’s Tale, long before it finally happened. Margaret Atwood had sold the film rights to MGM around 1986. But between corporate mergers and acquisitions and bankruptcies over many years, it took a while to figure out which legal entity owned the TV rights.

    1. Bruce*

      My group was acquired about 14 years ago, as part of the merger a lot of old design binders were being shredded. Some of these dated back to the first year of the company about 15 years before, and were probably the only remaining documents from those early designs. I found myself grabbing some of them from the shredder pile to save for posterity. I kept them through 2 office moves and even requested a book case to hold them. Finally they did an office move during the Covid lock down, we had the option to go in and collect any personal items or dispose of any junk… since no one had cracked these binders open in the 10 years since we were acquired and even the patents that had been filed 25 years before had expired, I finally consigned them to the shredder.

  34. slashgirl*

    Not really a war over supplies, but I once had a largish electric pencil sharpener taken from my school library, about 5 or 6 years ago, now. It was about 6-8″ tall, 5-7″ wide/long. It was a really nice one–I bought it from Scholastic’s classroom essentials using book fair profit.

    It was the beginning of the school year and the opening staff meeting was being held in the library ; I keep scrap paper and pencils on my side desk for folks that need them. One of the teachers was checking for a sharp pencil, I said, “Oh, you can sharpen it here if==” trailing off as I turned to look at where my sharpener usually lived and…it was gone. Now, I label almost everything, scissors, tape dispensers, hole punch. Didn’t think I needed to label a large electric pencil sharpener (I mean they had to take the time to unplug it from a hard to reach outlet, too.)

    Later I wandered over and took a quick peek in the principal and vp’s offices–wasn’t there (or it was, it was hidden). I sent out an all staff email, including a picture of the sharpener. Crickets. So after about 3 weeks, I decided I need to order a new one–kids often used it, so I needed one. Was able to get the same model and used my book fair profits again.

    One Monday morning about two weeks later, I come in and sitting on my desk is the shipping box with my new pencil sharpener and sitting right in front of that box? My old pencil sharpener. I opened the brand new one and labelled the crap out of it (I even labelled the inside of the shavings bin–I have label maker–cus I was NOT going to lose my sharpener again.) Later that school year, one of the upper elem teachers needed a new sharpener, so I gave her my slightly used one for free.

    To this day, I still have no idea who the hell stole (and returned) my sharpener. If they’d just asked I would’ve let them borrow it.

  35. Sleepiest Girl Out Here*

    Sorry if this a a dumb question but don’t gloves need a specific fit to be the most effective? If they’re too big or too tight are they as sterile?

    Someone who has not had to wear gloves outside of a hair dye situation since high school science class?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Yes, they need to be reasonably snug without being too tight. The thickness of the glove material is also a factor. Our buyer, the first time after we changed suppliers, got me medium but they were heavy, like the standard gloves you buy at the grocery store. A bit big and awkward due to the thickness. Next time was just right, but I still have her get the heavier ones. I can get multiple uses for cleaning out of them, and use the thinner for precision work.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      Yeah, ideally they fit correctly. Too tight is OK (though super uncomfortable) – but a higher risk of tearing. Too loose isn’t inherently going to cause a sterility problem, but it makes you super clumsy.

      I have never encountered anyone being that kind of weird about glove sizes (biology) but I guess this explains the weird tendency of men to wear gloves that are far too big for them – at my partner’s industrial site, and randos on YouTube IME.

    3. Grim*

      A good fit is important with sterile gloves, but most regular (latex/nitrile/etc) gloves aren’t sterile. If there’s a bunch of them in a cardboard box dispenser (as opposed to individually packaged and specifically labelled as sterile), then they aren’t sterile, and are intended more for the protection of the wearer from contact with biohazards, chemicals, etc. In that case, fit is still somewhat important, because ill-fitting gloves will impede your dexterity, and too-small stretched out gloves are a less effective barrier as they’re more prone to breaks. But for a lot of everyday tasks in the hospital or lab you can get away with wearing gloves that aren’t quite the perfect fit.

  36. kennqueen*

    Laughed out loud with tears streaming down my face! TY eyeball embalmer and stapler people!

  37. Eff Walsingham*

    Our hole punch was labeled as the property of Rita. I never met Rita personally, but she was my predecessor and something of a legend. The powers that be were desolated (yet a tiny bit relieved) that she had taken her prodigious skills and large personality elsewhere. For my part, I wished she had taken her hole punch. I have my own, and didn’t want to admit that I was slightly intimidated by the reminder that she was so terrifying and revered… and it was so pink. So. Very. Pink. That no one would ever think that it was mine.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Yes, I’m pretty sure you’re right! But in our case, our tiny not-for-profit did not survive Covid. I *think* Rita the hole punch found her way to Goodwill… but if I find that damn thing amongst my personal effects, I’m walking it over to the university and leaving it there! Back to school you go, Reet!

    1. M*

      I suspect, from years of reading AAM, that I can solve the Susan mystery, given the additional information that no-one could remember a Susan:

      The hole-punch was the only hole-punch, and was supposed to live by the printer. People kept taking it to use it by their desks, other people with their *own* hole-punches kept getting angry when people “stole” their hole-punches assuming they were the printer hole-punch. Someone eventually got irritated enough to label it with something passive aggressive, management intervened because it was passive aggressive. A subtle solution was conceived: put a name on the hole-punch, because that can’t be interpreted as passive aggressive, but then everyone knows *which* hole-punch is the printer hole-punch when they go on an office-hunt to locate it.

      Over time, the hole-punch became “Susan’s hole-punch”, rather than “the printer hole-punch, which has Susan written on it because people are animals and don’t put things back where they came from, *Bob*, I’m looking at *you* Bob”.

  38. Alianne*

    In my first retail job, my manager (also his first managerial position) was terrified to request supplies from his superior/the main office, so he refused to order anything that wasn’t somehow relevant to the shop specifically. We could get plastic utensils and napkins, because we sold food. But a box cutter to open newly-arrived shipments? A microwave or minifridge for the tiny back room so we could store and reheat leftovers for lunch? Heck, a couple of chairs to sit in on our break? Heavens to betsy, NO, I was selfish to even SUGGEST it. So I tore open boxes with my fingernails, ate sandwiches daily while leaning against the wall, and was out of there in two months. My boss at my current job (non-retail) watched me carefully opening a box by peeling tape away before asking gently “Would you like a box cutter? I budgeted for one.”

  39. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: taping “Theft is unbecoming of a medical professional. Leave the stapler here,” is the only thing that has kept us in possession of the same stapler for 6 years.

    1. Eff Walsingham*

      Unsurprising. I spent a year doing admin for a veterinary practice, and all our doctors were pen thieves. This was 20 years ago, when we had paper files, and had to fill out medication labels manually. Same with vaccination records. So we had to keep excusing ourselves to the back room and offices and frisking all the uninhabited white coats. Doctors would take a pen from the front desk, scribble a few of their unintelligible notes, put it in their coat pocket, and repeat for the next client. Thank goodness they didn’t want to wear the white coats home, because we were also not allowed to order office supplies. The owner felt they were largely a frivolous expense.

  40. Festively Dressed Earl*

    Sounds like a lot of #3’s coworkers need highchairs after all. And probably sippy cups. And crayons.

    1. Ipsissima*

      OP3 here. They *definitely* need the sippy cups and crayons. I’m glad I work third shift.

  41. PDB*

    Not office supplies per se but one place had a signup sheet for a piece of the Christmas chocolate.

  42. Caz*

    I have a similar story to number 8, but involving teaspoons. There were meetings – yes, more than one – about teaspoons. There were remarks made about the professionalism or lack of same of fellow professionals and how their behaviour about teaspoons must cast doubt on their behaviour in their professional lives. There was hoarding of teaspoons. It was…just horrific.

    1. Artemesia*

      If I were department chair, I would have given each person a teaspoon for the holidays and stopped stocking them in the break room.

  43. Walk on the Left Side*

    #3 The High Chair

    Clearly, a committee must be formed to handle administration of The Chair, including any inter-shift disputes as to its possession and/or usage.

    Or if for no other reason, just so that someone can be the Chair of the Chair Committee.

    1. Ipsissima*

      OP3 here. While I love the idea of a Chair of the Chair Committee (who would doubtless preside over meetings from the High Chair), please don’t give them any ideas. They find enough ways to waste time already.

  44. Deborah*

    Re: #11: the library stapler: Back in the day, as a library school student, I worked at a library that had an extra-indexed catalog for its video collection that included things like episode titles and plot synopses. In quiet moments at the reference desk, I would occasionally try searching random terms and seeing what came up. Searching for ‘stapler’ brought up… Office Space.

  45. Bruce*

    My former boss used to borrow pens from us all the time, they would end up in a basket on her desk. When she moved to a new company she gave me the basket, I told the rest of the team to come grab some and we all joked about how many she’d accumulated. As bosses go she was very good overall and we are still in touch 30+ years later…

  46. Artemesia*

    I was a HS teacher for 4 years in the 60s and when I was first hired a colleague told me that ‘we always run out of ditto paper, so you need to hide some so you will have it for finals’. 4 years later I still had 3 reams of pristine ditto paper in my lower desk drawer.

  47. Minerva*

    I took over a job from a woman who emailed things to herself and printed them out to include in her “procedures” manual. My parting gift to the department was a Word doc with table of contents to replace the binder of printed emails.

  48. Caitlin*

    Re #8 forks, the first office I worked at had to have a “fork amnesty” where anyone could return an office fork they had taken with no questions asked. Definitely an introduction to office life!

  49. Librarian*

    I used to work at a library on the reference desk and the stapler was the cause of so many issues! It just would break All. The. Time. causing a lot of annoyance to the staff. And anything not nailed down (pens, staplers, etc. ) would also get taken by students constantly. So we had a similar system of keeping things at the desk and I totally sympathise with the librarian on this one! They had probably been burned too many times before.

    1. JustaTech*

      Whoever started the trend of taping artificial flowers to the ends of pens at the cash register (and similar places where people need a pen for a moment but often wander off with them) was brilliant and should be awarded their own day of recognition.

      (At the kitchen supply they used to fill the pen cup with coffee beans to keep the pens upright, but at Christmas they used Christmas M&Ms. I once watched a grown adult look at this cup of pens and pen-marked M&Ms, grab and handful and eat them. Gross!)

  50. Grim*

    I hadn’t thought of this as “office supplies”, but I was recently working as a carer in a nursing home where packets of hygiene wipes/bath-in-bed wipes were a weirdly precious resource. In most other places there would be a large supply cupboard or a store room with a stock of all the things (like hygiene wipes!) that are essential to the job and you need to use a lot of, but not here. The place was built like a rabbit warren with a multitude of little supply cupboards, so at the start of each shift, I’d go through all the supply cupboards in my area to see if I could find a packet or two of wipes, and then that would be My Packet for the rest of the shift. I’d stash it somewhere and bring it with me if I thought I’d need it. As you can probably imagine, this scarcity of wipes made changing residents’ incontinence pads (one of the main duties of the job) a lot more logistically complicated than it needed to be.

  51. AcademicLibrarian*

    No. 11. NEVER mess with the Library Stapler. They do have a tendency to break, disappear, etc, etc.
    Signed, An Academic Librarian.

  52. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    #6 is nearly as bad as what we had to endure with the admin who handled office supplies in our division. If you wanted paper clips, you had to tell her exactly how many, then you’d receive that amount in an envelope. Nobody was allowed to have a box of paperclips for their very own. And it meant we all had messy desk drawers.

  53. goddessoftransitory*

    A quick derail, but just a shout out–Ask A Manager is mentioned by name in Bridget and Mary Jo’s latest for Rifftrax, Crime of Passion (starring Barbara Stanwyck!) I was thrilled!

  54. Dragon Toad*

    First off, the library stapler saga is amazing, and I wish AAM had received a series of letters when this was actually going on, so we could watch this insanity unfold in front of us through regular updates. Honestly, it’s beautiful.

    My Dad’s workplace had the same issue as #8, except was with teaspoons. When the communal kitchen/break room area was down to one single metal teaspoon, some bright sparks pulled out a drill and a WELDING GUN, and attached a thick metal ring to the kitchen counter. To that ring they attached a long thick metal chain, the end of that chain being welded to the end of the teaspoon handle.
    Amazingly, this chain did not prevent the dishwasher door from closing enough to still function, so it was a common sight to see the dishwasher running with a giant chain hanging out of it.

  55. Maggie*

    My office keeps all supplies under lock and key. If you need a pencil, you’d better hope the Executive Assistant is working in the building, because she has the only keys. I have no idea if theft was ever a problem, but considering that there are only about six people in the building at any given time, and none of us particularly want to steal generic yellow pencils they could probably drop the high security supply cabinet. Maybe the raccoons in the ceiling have been stealing them.

  56. Lucy P*

    #7. Yesterday I installed new software on a computer that was purchased in 2005. The computer that I’m typing from now was bought in 2012. Yes, they both power on and off. However, if a computer has never been shut down recently, it’s best to leave it turned on.

    All of the PCs/Laptops in our office are from 2015 or older.

  57. Anna K*

    #5 printers – god, I wish I had this problem! Before we went remote, my company decided that people were abusing the general printer, I guess? So everyone had to enter their employee PIN and a project billing code for every printout or scan they did (the scans particularly outraged me because it doesn’t use any material). The process was so convoluted and buggy that basically no one could figure out how to print anymore

    #8 forks – my sister’s office had this issue, and she went and bought a bunch of forks from a thrift store and stealth re-stocked up the kitchen

  58. Jake*

    As a man who wears medium or large gloves, depending on the type and brand, I love the XL glove story. I love when people stop using the same stuff I need.

  59. Peon*

    Ah, office supplies. I used to be in charge of ordering them for a retail store I worked at. We were constantly “lending” pencils to customers; we went through dozens every month, it was ridiculous. So I started ordering golf pencils. Staff complained at first, until they noticed that customers never seemed to steal those. *We* could always find a pencil to write with, and we kept pink erasers handy at the desks where we needed them.

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