Monday, August 5, 2013

Allen’s Binders

Shortly after the staple pit was disbanded, I began working in the clerical department of a different division within the same office. My cube was next to the printer, which sat on the other side of the half-wall that made up one side of my cube. 

Next to the printer was a decent length of counter space which was unfortunately only sort-of useful because of all the old binders stacked on it. Some time ago, likely before the advent of computers, binders had played a large role in the day-to-day functioning of this particular office. We still stocked them in the office supply area, and every once in a long while someone would ask for one. No one would take one from the printer counter though, they always wanted a new one from office supplies.

The binders on the counter were so decrepit that they made horrible cracking noises when you opened them. Some were made out of materials I couldn’t even identify - some kind of wood product that was probably banned in the early 80s for causing birth defects. The rings inside them were like bear traps. The damned things were dangerous.

I was in charge of office supplies, and I have a fondness for clear counter space. I started asking around about the binders. I got the kind of responses/looks you get when you ask people about politics, religion or the union. Finally, one woman who handled the paper inventory whispered to me, after glancing around to make sure no one was listening, “Those are Allen’s binders.”

Allen had been there forever. I can totally picture his mother dropping him off when he was about six, and then him returning every day on his own forever after.

The story was, someone wanted to throw out the old binders. Allen got wind of it and saw it as tremendously wasteful and irresponsible. He was quite vocal about it and apparently no one else thought throwing out the binders was important enough to upset him any more. So for God-knows how long there had been a bunch of old binders there that no one would use, collecting dust and taking up space.

I threw them out. As I loaded them into the large trash can next to the elevators, the head of our division happened by. He said, “I hope you’re not throwing those away.” I stood up very tall and started explaining to him that that is exactly what I was doing and why I was right to do it, but he cut me off. 

“I’ve wanted to do that for years,” he said as he got on an elevator. I think he may have even given me a thumbs up. (Allen's Binders, Part 2)