A Hidden Addiction Among Admins – and No, It’s Not Coffee.

At the request of many admin pals.. I’m re-posting this blog from August 2010… Enjoy.  And remember.. admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery..~kemetia

It’s been said that the first step to recovering from an addiction is to admit it.  But what to do when it is so socially and culturally ingrained as acceptable, nay even encouraged, in your daily life — that it is shameful and humiliating to admit it.

You know who you are.  You start out with a few cool items that no one else in your office has seen.  You were the first with lined post-it notes with the cool pop-up feature.  You know every brand of high-lighter and white-out made and which one works best with different inks.  Some of you even know settings on laminators or know some of the tools of the trade that aren’t even in most stores.
Last week, you broke into a cool sweat when the Sunday papers arrived and had all the back-to-school advertisements for Staples, Office Depot, Target. Frantically, you began cutting coupons.  You had hoarded the other coupons  you gathered at #EFAM in Boston in July. Then, when your kid’s or grandkid’s school supply list was provided.. all it did was provide cover for you to indulge in your nasty, scary habit — all in the public eye!  You woke up early Saturday morning and ditched your family- ignored your bank account balance, and showed the world how to really warm up a debit card
That’s right.  Admit it.  You are addicted. to. office supplies!  You’d loll around the aisles at Staples during back-to-school week like Madonna in her “Like a Virgin” video if they’d let you.  You can detail the pros & cons of paper vs. electronic planners like a lawyer presenting at the United States Supreme Court.  You’d shame Alex Trebek on Jeopardy! if they had an Avery label number category.  You know all the brands and had to be restrained from becoming violent when the clerk at the local retailer said that gel ink  and roller ball pens were the same product.
It’s okay.. forgive yourself. It’s an illness prevalent in our administrative culture..You’re an administrative professional.  Our culture expects us to geek out about fonts, grammar and expense reports.  We just can’t stop at one type of Post-it® flag or divider.  We’ll never be able to go completely paper-free without some kind of electroshock therapy. It’s an insidious illness.
Just last year, I had my own sad and eye-opening self realization at just how bad my addiction to office supplies had grown.  It involved a desk calendar.  Not just any desk calendar, mind you. But an 17 x 24 tabbed desk calendar with holder that was faux leather by Day-Timer® .  Oooh!  I just wanted to share my joy with everyone when it arrived via UPS.   And then, in my office supply drunken stupor – I forced the CEO to admire the new addition to my desktop… Gracefully raising the pages of the calendar to reveal the colored tabs like Vanna White turning over the vowels on Wheel of Fortune..Pointing to the  hidden compartments for business cards and stamps, the surprise pullout hidden sheet protectors to pull out the staff calendar.  Taken aback, he managed a polite glance full of sympathy at my state of being and rushed out the office door.   
I realized what an ass I’d made of myself, but it was too late.  My life was being dictated by addiction to office supplies. NO one understood my suffering. I immediately entered an underground group therapy center for those of us suffering from this terrible addiction– an IAAP meeting.  There, I was welcome to discuss my problem openly.  My built-in group of understanding peers!  They, too, nodded when I shared my excitement about finding a jewelry maker that made bracelets and necklaces from old typewriter keys.  I was no longer alone!
So, my friends, beware the back-to-school shopping season- for you know that there are the addicted among us- pretending to shop for others but instead have slipped back into our demanding love affair with office supplies.  
Don’t judge us, hater.  Just tell yourself that we’re helping the economy.

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  1. Brandi

    Agreed. In my Office, I'm called the Pen Nazi…because I refuse to $36 for 12 pens. I don't care how clear they write and how soft they are on your caluses…I won't do it! You are more than able to use the 1.99 pack of Office Depot brand 24 pens. 😉

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