Thursday, November 14, 2013


When I went to Big State University in the 1980's, I worked in a campus department office.

A girl name Alyssa worked there, too. We did not like each other. No idea what it was, just bad chemistry I guess. The kind of thing where within a few seconds of meeting someone you know you hate them.

We were able to work politely, but everyone in the office knew the temp got colder when we were both in the same room. So we tried to stick with different jobs in the daily routine, and avoid each other.

Until, one day... disaster struck.

That afternoon someone gave us both THE SAME DAMN JOB. Booklets were needed for a meeting of some sort, and we had to put them together. This would likely have gone fine, except for one minor detail: we had to share one freakin' stapler.

It wasn't a standard stapler, either, but one of those heavy-duty office ones designed for thick stuff.

So here we were, each taking page 1 from one pile, page 2 from another, and so on (I think it was around 25 pages total) and stapling them together. As the stapler got shuffled back and forth across the table things got nastier and nastier, with each accusing the other of keeping it for too long, not using it when it was taken, and working too slowly.

At some point we both reached for the stapler at the same time, and began fighting over it. Each of us was trying to staple stuff and not let go of the stapler.

And then, it happened.

All I remember is that we both yelled at the same time, then began swearing. Somehow, we'd stapled ourselves together. The webbing between my right thumb and first finger now impaled through the same area of her left hand.

Blood and paper flew everywhere. Now we were REALLY angry, blaming the other for the accident. And we couldn't get the industrial-grade staple out. There was no option but to walk to student health.

We opened the door and walked out into the main office. People who knew we hated each other, and wondered what the screaming was about, were stunned to see us holding hands. We didn't really have much choice. As blood dripped on the floor she grabbed a box of tissues to staunch things.

We got a few (okay, a lot of) weird looks as we walked across BSU campus to student health. In the waiting room someone told me we looked like a botched suicide pact.

It took about 20 minutes until we were separated.

We both got fired. No idea where she is today.


Cape Cod Step-Mom said...

In a movie/book you would have married her!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, did you say this was in college or in fifth grade?

Anonymous said...

what? you two got fired but not workers' compensation? it's their fault since they assigned you both the same damn job!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that giggle!

Moose said...

This completely trumps my tale of how I was so bad at sewing I failed 8th grade sewing class because I stitched my fingers together.

or a friend's claim that the first time I met him, I stapled his arm.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, really.

But I have a question. My Mongolian yaks are not thriving on their strict diet of artisanal, organic, Yak-Chow.

Since you seem to be an expert, can you give me any tips on how to get the Yaks, and Yaklettes, to eat?

Thanks Grumpy!

Packer said...

Have you never heard of sexual tension---it was not hate you were feeling. Ah, young misguided people not recognizing their hopelessly jumbled emotions.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't have told us the end...that you haven't seen her in yrs.

You should have asked us to guess what happened after you got de-stapled.
Bet 90% of us would've guessed she was now Mrs Grumpy. The cynical 10% would've said she later got mauled by a bear and you took her parking spot.

Steeny Lou said...

I'm waiting for someone to set up an account and comment under the name of Alyssa, claiming to be her. I look forward to reading what "Alyssa" might say.

CrownedwithVictory said...

That was hilarious!

Your Nemesis Alyssa said...

Dr. Grumpy, it's me, Alyssa. I still hate you.

Officer Cynical said...

She lives on my beat. She has 5 kids, all under the age of 6, smokes 2 packs a day, drinks top-shelf vodka mixed with Tang, and has $8,000 worth of tattoos. Oh, and she's on welfare.

RehabRN said...


On my first day as a bank teller in the lobby I stapled my thumb and dropped a roll of quarter under the counter, where it tripped the silent alarm.

Fun times when the police called. Thankfully, they didn't show up with guns drawn.

Needless to say, I was a bit stressed, but I kept that job all through college. I learned a lot about human nature and the FBI during that job.

Anonymous said...

OMG, hillarious. I loved the "we both got fired" part, look it's the two stooges.

Patti Cadwallader said...

Sounds to me like you two are "blood brothers" now. ("blood sister & brother?")I don't think there's any getting away from that.

Me, not you said...

Ahhhhhhh, good times!

Cato said...

That's one heck of a story you've got there. It's like something you'd see in a stupid comedy movie, one of those ones about two people that hate each others' guts and fall in love or something.

It's also an object lesson for anyone that's actually in any way in charge of people. When you've got two good employees that don't get along, don't try to force them together, or you might end up having to replace one, the other, or both when the fur starts to fly. Since good employees are hard to come by, just let them be and partner them up with anybody else.

Anonymous said...

..was the stapler red????

Anonymous said...

Oh my. If this had happened to me, I'd have promptly fainted and there would be no choice of how the disconnect would've been effected!

Thanks for recollecting this humbling human reality.

I think it would be quite interesting to relate Pell Grant tales, not that 'we' ever had a chance to dictate our work assignments. I was a grateful recipient of Work-Study assistance, though decades ago (fair warning!) when a pharmacy student. Nowadays, pharmacy students graduate from school with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt because, I understand, they're involved in a degree program that disallows Federal work-study funding. After years of hotdogs, anonymously donated pharmacy school Christmas food baskets, WIC cheese, balancing 2-3 minimum wage jobs, no health insurance (constant worry with small children), and qualified school funding programs, after one-year residency, my family was not in debt, and able to start saving right away for the next college-bound generation.

At a time when the entire college of pharmacy had slept with Goodman & Gilman (pharmacology), Remington (pharmaceutical science), and Bergey (bacteriolgy), and signs were plastered everywhere around labs NOT to mouth-pipette samples, one of my contributions would be a story of 'draining', measuring, analyzing output of rodent cages of little critters injected with chemo-toxins, without benefit or thought of the use of gloves or other personal protective equipment.
This was at a time before Time's iconic front cover story on emergence of AIDS.

As for interpersonal working conditions, many pharmacy student assignments were in situations of working alone e.g. washing lab equipment, setting up labs, running sampling trials, etc.

One mortifying incident involved providing a HPLC lab sample that had been highly filtered for my supervisor (who'd previously mentioned my scrupulously good lab technique), which had been contaminated with an eyelash.

I'm sure unbeknownst to Pell there are many other unintended, many, many 'adventures in learning'.

ayeekaz said...

It didn't occur to either of you to create a production line with one of you in charge of the stapler and the other compiling? College you say?

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