“Now remember, the Swingline Sanctuary is a safe environment for office supplies from the Southern Michigan University computer lab,” said Rem, the brown and cracked old bakelite-handled staple remover. “We’re on the front lines, the most heavily used supplies outside of the admissions office, and our health and well-being is very important. No one wants a repeat of the Elektro-Stape incident.”

The assembled supplied moved their hinges in agreement. The Elektro-Stape, a motorized stapler with undiagnosed PTSD, had snapped during one fateful final exam period and devoured 50 freshman introductory composition essays. The computer lab posse had been forced to feed him cardstock to stop the carnage.

“Bic, I believe you said you wanted to start us off.” Rev was too old and broken to see the rigors of use anymore, but he had led the supplies placed near the lab’s printing station 1948-1971–a lab record–and was kept around by the juniors and seniors that ran the place because of his “retro” look.

The multi-hue highlighter loaned to students in the lab’s quiet study area moved forward. “I was all ready to spill forth my ink for the first time,” moaned Bic. “It’s an important rite of passage for highlighters, even if the pens make fun of us for it. and then…and then…”

“It’s all right, let it all out,” said Rem. “We’re here for you, Bic.”

“They used me to highlight dirty words in Sixty Shades of Beige,” Bic wailed. “And to draw mustaches and eyepatches on Kym Cardassian’s photoshoot for Person magazine!”

Murmurs of concern and support came from the circle. “That’s awful,” said Rev. “I knew ENGL 401 was using Sixty Shades of Beige as part of their unit on worthless drek, but…wow.”

Stanley, the current lab stapler, moved forward next. He was a 1982 model, and had outlived 177 cheaper replacements due to his sturdy construction…but even he had his demons. “The sign says twenty pages or less, but they just kept…piling them in there,” Stanley said. “When I jammed, they just kept pushing, and pushing, and swearing…the guys at the computer desk had to unjam me with needlenose pliers! I still have a headache from the trauma.”

“If there’s one thing those rotten freshmen won’t do, it’s read the directions,” Rem sighed. He’d been used as a toothpick 1949-1955 despite a sign specifically prohibiting that usage.

Stanley continued: “And my friend HD the heavy-duty stapler is still in intensive care after those brutes tried to use him to staple two and a half pages. They might have to disassemble him!”

“I hear you,” said Cole the hole punch. “I’d like to share a similar story that your struggles are helping me to confront.”

“Please do,” Stanley said.

“Well, the kids can’t usually put too many sheets in me because of my design, thank goodness. But with exams…I’m so full of punched holes that I’m about to back up, and the kids at the desk are too busy to empty me. I haven’t been emptied since May. I haven’t been emptied since May!”

From an idea by breylee.

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