Thursday, May 24, 2012


When I step back an try to analyze why, this week, I was so homesick, I can sum it up in one word. Stapler...I miss my stapler.

At St. Joe's, I had this big, heavy, 20-year-old, green, steel stapler that I inherited from the many loving teachers before me who had used my desk. Now, I'm not saying this stapler was perfect. It wasn't. It had some idiosyncrasies. For example, if students used the stapler, they often jammed it because they didn't give it the extra push with the palm of their hand to "finish" the staple. And, this stapler did not like to be held in the air to staple. It had to be used flat on a desk. Again, it needed that extra push to finish the job. But, my old green stapler was my favorite. It was a work horse handling thick stacks of paper and large jobs. It was the symbol of good old-fashioned quality American manufacturing.

My current school does not furnish staplers. As a matter of fact, it doesn't furnish anything except computer paper in small quantities. So far, I've bought three staplers this year and I've broken two. The staplers here are about the length of a crayon or the size we would find in a back-to-school student promotion pack. The staples range in size from 2 mm to the "heavy duty" at 3 mm which is the difference between stapling about two sheets of paper to about four sheets of paper depending upon the quality and thickness of the copy paper the school bought for the week. The staplers are made of plastic and a tiny bit of tin with a few thin springs thrown for function. In other words they are junk.

Stapler number 3, however, is a tiny bit more heavy duty so I've been caring for it like a mother bear with her cub. I keep it in my teacher jacket and I don't let students use it. However, I made the mistake on Wednesday of leaving it on my desk in 2C while I was packing up my flash cards at the end of class. Because the students have a "no boundaries" philosophy e.g. they feel free to pick up anything, sit at the teacher's desk, play on her computer (that's why none of them work), etc., so within seconds a students had jammed stapler number 3.

My response was probably a little harsh for the crime (picture mother bear herself) but I'm homesick for quality manufacturing and things that actually work the way they are intended. Actually, I'm homesick for a lot more, but the stapler kind of sums it up.

(Just a side note...I'related this story to Eric and he said, "Oh, that's nothing. In China it was common for us to open a brand new stapler, test it, and throw it across the room." So far, I've gotten at least a few sheets stapled with each stapler.)

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