I don’t take part in New Year’s resolutions; I see no reason to delay being disappointed in myself for a few weeks. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do have goals.
This Summer I have been a terrible receptionist at a tiny building on a deserted college campus. I’m awful on the phone, not great with the students, and my excel skills are not as proficient as my resume claims. Luckily, there isn’t much to be done except filing. I file a lot; I file as much as a death row inmate with a nail file three days before their execution. Somewhere lost in the thousands of papers I’ve rifled through are tiny fragments of my peace of mind left behind after too many goddamn paper cuts. One of the colossally rewarding tasks I perform is to remove a certain form, scan it, then put it back. Most of these forms are stapled together, so I remove the staple and replace it with a paperclip so I can copy them without sending tiny office shrapnel into a printer that costs as much as my apartment’s lease. My workday is as exciting as your standard beige wall.
In a job as boring as mine, survival is keeping yourself engaged with little goals: get through 30 folders then browse the internet, finish an excel sheet then get fresh coffee, things of that type. A week ago I noticed I had made a slight dent in the office’s supply of yellow paperclips. There are an unreasonable amount of them. That was all I needed. I had a new goal: use every yellow paperclip.
In months at this job, I have never been so efficient. For days I have attacked every file I can find. Replacing staples with clips like a loose cannon secretary high on Purel. I’m not obsessed, but I am constantly preoccupied with the thought of the slowly depleting supply of yellow clips and it’s all I think about at work. I close my eyes for a mid-shift nap, and I see them dancing like Clippy at a rave. With the same attentiveness of a new parent, I stare into stacks of papers searching for a sign of silver. I’ve been replacing other paperclips with my sweet, sweet yellow ones. I have a significant pile of obsolete gray clips hidden in a drawer. If someone discovers them, I don’t know what they’ll think. Probably nothing. I don’t care. The clips are all that matter to me. There are 162 left. I have work to do. This is my synthetic reward because I know this job will give me nothing else.