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Dangling Paper Clips

     The real reason computers are so popular is because they don’t require paper clips. Paper clips were a marvelous invention, of course. But that was back when we wrote everything on paper – before e-mail and voicemail and instant messaging and Morse code.

     Never need paper clips now. Almost never. Once in a while, maybe. When you print out stuff from your computer to send to someone who hasn’t signed on to the Internet. When the boss asks for “hard copy” to pass out at the meeting. Things like that.

     Fortunately you can still buy paper clips at Office Depot and probably even on-line, if you prefer. And they still come in different sizes. Mostly regular or Jumbo. You can get triangular ones in red and blue and pink, although what you’d want those for, I’ve never been able to fathom. They stick out like a sore thumb among standard metal normal paper clips.

     I’m sure it’s the convenience of paper clips that has kept them around for decades. So easily removed for quick copying of documents – as opposed to staples, which multiply by the tens as you feed your stack of papers into the copy machine. So easily attached. Sometimes too easily…

     The other day I grabbed a paper clip. Two days later I was still trying to disengage the extra one, dangling from its side. They hook up during the night, you know – intertwine their slender metal arms and recite some kind of “Immutably Clipped” vows.

     I maneuvered the dangling paper clip up and around and almost off its host. I moved it carefully down and over and almost off its host. I stomped on both of them. I hollered at them. I totally gave up. But I refused to put the inseparable pair back in the holder, ’cause you know what I’d grab next time I needed a paper clip.

     I tossed them aside and with my right hand firmly gripping forty-three pages – forty-three pages in the proper order, please note – I reached into the paper clip holder with my left hand and felt my way down past hundreds of regular-size clips, searching for a Jumbo clip. I would’ve set the pages on the desk, but I knew they’d disappear into my myriad stacks of papers like syrup into a thirsty pancake.

     I feel it! I’ve got it! Paper clips by the dozens flew across the desk and into the cracks of my keyboard as I yanked the Jumbo clip triumphantly from its hiding place. I moved it quickly toward my right hand, deliberately ignoring the four regular clips that for some mysterious reason were diligently trailing behind.

     As I slid the U-shaped prongs of the Jumbo clip firmly over my pages, the point of the nearest trailing clip, which was firmly entwined in the crook of Jumbo’s elbow, snagged the first page and before you could say “clipit!” all forty-three pages slid out from the Jumbo clip’s grip.

     I retrieved them, re-ordered them and all would have been okay, except that page thirty-nine was missing. I peered under my desk and under my chair and even between the wall and my desk before I remembered the ultimate resting-place of all misplaced papers - the wastebasket. The missing page smiled up at me happily and that would be the end of the story except that it isn’t.

     I still had a Jumbo clip with four clips attached to it, forty-three pages of papers waiting to be clipped and not a single unattached Jumbo clip in sight. But there was a regular-sized paper clip reclining lazily on my chair. Unattached. I grabbed it and stuck it on the forty-three pages without a moment’s hesitation.

     It promptly popped off. Forty-three pages spurted across the room and once more I retrieved and reassembled the pages, but this time I took them directly to the heavy-duty stapler, shoved their top left corners between the stapler’s jaws and slammed down the handle.

     The stapler was empty, of course.

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