Friday, March 23, 2007

All I wanted were some Post-Its

It used to be so easy. If you wanted a box of jumbo wavy paperclips, some envelopes and a rubber knob for the end of your little finger, you'd write out a page in the wee stationery order book, get it signed by a reasonably-responsible person, then wander downstairs to the stores.

The stores were at the end of a long tunnel lined with empty water cooler bottles like a leftover ammunition dump of the Great War. Footfalls echoed eerily ahead of you. Water dripped down inside pipework in the walls and ceiling. An occasional groan or sob broke the creepy silence in side doors at the rear of the kitchen. Just out of the corner of one's eye, something white and slime-covered slithered quickly into a bucket of water, then was still.

Inside a little wooden hatch at the foot of a stairway sat Gerry the Storeman, whose desk was hidden behind a shabby blue partition. On the other side he engaged in code breaking of the Russian defence forces radio traffic and complicated cyphers hidden in the muisic of Radio Moscow for an un-named government. The receiver would click off and his head appear over the partition when you knocked or coughed. A sheaf of top secrets would be shuffled off into a drawer. A newspaper would be deftly draped over a pistol on the desktop. He smiled, keeping one hand near the gun.

"Morning, Willie. What can I get you?"

"The swans of April are shedding their winter plumage early this year," I would say.

Relaxing and moving towards the hatch, his hands held carefully by his side, he would reply:

"And the sparrows of Springtime are nesting in the bullrushes."

"Can I have a box of envelopes?"

"Window or plain?"

Those were the good old days, although we didn't know it at the time. Then the order came from those shadowy figures in the administration that the stores were to be closed down and in future an electronic ordering and a decentralised stationery storage system were to be introduced. Departments would assign the task to one or two individuals and anything not available in the local stationery cupboard could be ordered weekly. Whether you needed it immediately or not.

"I'm sorry, madam, but could you please repeat your name, address and telephone number slowly? I have to learn them off by heart. I don't get a biro until Monday."

I went to the stores for some Post-Its. Gerry was dressed in a fire-proof suit and visor and was incinerating the last of the treasury tags with a flamethrower.

"Any Post-its, Gerry?" I shouted above the roar of the fire.

He lifted the visor briefly.

"Sorry, Willie. None in stock. You'll have to speak with the Stationery Procurement Officer in your own Department."

"What will you do now, Gerry?" I asked.

"I don't really know," he said, patting absently at a wayward flame that had started consuming some packets of permanent markers. "I suppose I'll be reassigned to the covert assassination section."

"Well, best of luck wherever you end up," I said.
He turned back to the consuming fires and blasted a box of photocopy paper into oblivion. The wooden hatch closed with a snap. I went back upstairs and found the Stationery Procurement Officer.
He was locking the stationery cupboard and pocketing the key. There was an empty cardboard delivery box beside him.
"Any Post-Its?" I asked.
"Not today. We just received an order. I can ask for Post-Its in the next order."
"What did we get today?"
"Yes, stuff."
He looked at me. I looked at the locked cupboard.
"Can I see?"
"If you saw, I would have to kill you."
"I understand."
I paused and thought for a moment.
I said: "The swans of April are shedding their winter plumage early this year."
The Stationery Procurement Officer said nothing.
I said: "Apples are ripening in the eastern orchards by the rippling ponds."
No reply.
I said: "You're wearing a cleverly designed rubber mask disguise, aren't you?"
"Are you about to take it off and reveal your true identity?"
"Can I order some Post-Its for next week then?"
"I'll see what I can do."
I miss the good old days.


Jo said...

Excellent !

Willie_W said...

Told exactly as it happened.

Sinead said...

Bon Voyage to the good oul everyone logged in over there folks??

Willie_W said...

A dark tale for another time, I think. Welcome to the Blog.

Jo said...

This has nothing to do with the post-it's post *S*. I have forgotten how to strat another thread here, sorry.

This post is about my "senior " moment of the day.
Having only hubbie and myself at home I must say the washing machine is used much less now.
Today I decided to was the bathroom mats. Putting the TWO things into the machine I wondered if the rubber backing on the mats would stay intack. I know the sounds of the different spins on the machine, so when an "odd " sound from the kitchen beckoned I dashed in to see the machine slowly spinning on the fast spin dial. AHHHH shoot, I retorted. I tried other dials on the machine in hopes that it would spin faster. Of course it won't, silly woman, the outlet pipe is clogged up with rubber from the mats !
Not one of my better thinking day's, saying that, I DID think it didn't I ?
A call to my son in law ( the fixer ) and he said he knew how to unplug the hose. The top would have to come off etc. Some years ago, I would have had a go at fixing the machine myself, now as I am getting older I think again and ask for help. Age is creeping up on me I think *S*

Willie_W said...

That's not a senior moment. That's just "Feck it!"

If it's any consolation, I just spent a week hanging cupboards on a wall using an electric drill which I discovered (on the very last day) to be switched to "Reverse".

Joyce said...

Shame on you Willie Walsh as we strive to a paperless office! What would the almighty Joe think? Excellent piece and every word of it true.

Jo said...

On the reverse Willie ! Better watch the cupboards are actually screwed onto the wall LOL

Willie_W said...

The screwdriver, fortunately, was going in the right direction, as that was attached to me.

Willie_W said...

Actually, my desk is starting to disappear under Post-Its, so maybe there's something in the discouragement of them after all. I ordered some new ones on Monday so we shall see if any arrive. Revolution by Post-It! Who'd a thunk it?