Today I pulled the last staples from a box of 5000 and slid them into my red Aceliner model 502 stapler (it’s a beaut, le tme tell you!). This simple act has led me to entertain reflections upon my mortality.  Though the declining light and falling leaves at this time of year have already put me into the mindset where endings, dormancies and death are sometimes considered.

As I can best recall, I ordered those staples early in my career at this company’s predecessor, maybe even in my first year.  Since said career at my employer began over 18 years ago, the memory of early office supplies is a little fuzzy.  But I can say that I don’t remember a day here without my little plastic box of staples at my side.  

Five thousand staples spread across 18 years works out to about 278 staples a year.  Considering 52 weeks in each of those years, and factoring in 23 days of vacation and 10 company holidays for most of that time, plus a sick day here and there, yields around 220 works days a year.  So, about one-and-one-quarter staples per day.  It doesn’t seem like much.  I’d have guessed I used around 4 or 5 staples a day.  But that guess would apparently have been wrong.

In any case, these staples have served me well, and soon (after I’ve used up the remaining 20 or 30 staples in my stapler), they’ll be gone.  Though, reconsidering, I suppose that some of those staples will be with me for the rest of my life.  Surely a few have made it home and into my filing cabinets where, barring a fire or a flood, they’ll reside until my personal effects are distributed, some to a landfill, some to a filing cabinet belonging to another.

Perhaps some of the staples have bound together a document with contents of more durable interest - a family tree, a short story?  I  expect that even these will soon be scanned and sent to electronic storage, the original relegated to a landfill.  But that may turn out to be a sort of ageless enduring.  

For if the scanning individual follows my technique, they’ll also capture a tiny image of the staple’s stiff visage on the front page of that document.  And perhaps  an image of it’s curled backside on the last page.  And who can guess how long that might last in some personal server, or uploaded to the web?  Its purpose long past, this visual echo may survive for eons, long surpassing the memory of the company that caused it to be made, or the person who used it to bind his papers.

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