Monthly Archives: August 2017

Theory about Staplers

I have this mental image of staplers at the office supply warehouse. As they are being packed in a big box, they can’t help but express their excitement about going out and making a contribution to the world of paper.

“No one will lose page 8 because of me.”

“I’ll keep that report together, and my owner will get an ‘A.'”

Then one of them happens to overhear their destination: a college library.

The excitement turns to wailing and gnashing of teeth. For they have all heard the stories.

And, yes, yesterday was the first day of classes. And already one stapler has given its life to the cause.


Monday Motivator: It’s Always Someone’s First Time


A few weeks ago, I stopped to fill up my car. The station had gone to a new credit card machine, and you had to slide your card in a different way than before. I put in my card and received the message ‘card not read.’ This is not what I wanted to see, but I wasn’t surprised. My card is old and grumpy and doesn’t like certain card readers. I put it in again. And again. After the third time, I asked for help.

The attendant came over and pointed at the picture description of how to put in your card. “I did that,” I said. I showed him. He was less than impressed. I turned the card over, and that irritated him even more. Again, he pointed out the directions. I pushed the card in one more time, and thank the heavens, it worked. He walked off.

But as I was filling up my car, his voice floated over to me as he talked to another customer. Words like “can’t read simple directions” and “how hard it is to put a credit card in a slot.” Now, it would be too much to say he damaged my self-esteem. After all, I know how to read directions. And I have a lot of experience using credit cards. Still, I was glad to get out of there.

I think I know what happened. Since the changeover at the pumps, this poor man had been besieged by folks who couldn’t get the hang of the new system. I was probably the fiftieth person who needed help that morning. And he was frustrated.

But here’s the thing. It was the first time I needed help on the system.

This is one idea that I try to keep in mind as each new semester begins. Yes, I may have answered the same question twenty times. I may not want to walk over to the printer AGAIN to show someone how it works. After all, I’m tired. My bunion hurts. This is the first time I have sat down in the last hour.

But then I remember: It’s the student’s first time asking the question. And the way I answer is going to affect how he views the library, maybe the entire college. So instead of caring about I feel, I put myself in the student’s place. How would I want someone to respond if I didn’t know how to do something?

And despite my fatigue and my bunion, the answer is obvious.

Monday Motivator: Rocking the Eclipse

Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul. — Victor Hugo

Today was the total eclipse. Like many people, I had fretted over this day for a while. What would happen if it rained? What if my glasses didn’t work? Or I lost them? Would my eclipse t-shirt arrive in time? Most of all, what if the eclipse turned out to be a disappointment?

Let’s face it. By the time you reach my age, you have learned that the event does not always live up to the hype. But nature did not disappoint today. The light right before the totality is something I will never forget, and I now truly understand why our ancestors associated eclipses with the supernatural.

If I had been alone at my house, the eclipse would have been special. But I was lucky that my college made an event out of it. We joked and laughed. We snacked. We took goofy pictures of each other in our glasses. And when the sun disappeared, there was a second of communal silent awe before we broke into applause.

It was special. And a great start to the school year.